Welcome to My Venture!

Although my approach may be a bit unconventional, it is my greatest desire for this online journal to be a unique place where we can share life lessons learned from the many wonderful people–past and present– who profoundly touch our lives!

I sincerely hope you will feel inclined to comment and pay tribute to these great mentors by sharing your thoughts with me and this community.  It’s my goal for all who visit here to benefit as we participate and read one another’s insights.

I’ve learned that everyone has something to teach and something to learn!

The Cookbook Challenge! Healthyish!

The Cookbook Challenge!  Healthyish!

How can you not stop and browse a cookbook with this title…I mean seriously!!!  Aside from the clever, eye-catching title, this cookbook is full of fun, easy recipes that will restore your faith in the fact that healthy-ish can be really tasty too!

The Cookbook Challenge!

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces, just good food from fresh ingredients!”  Julia Child 

As the weather eases into summer, we naturally seem to be more active and are inclined to eat healthier as fresh produce is more available, but as the saying goes…people who love good food…are always the best people…and I believe that food should always be healthyish!

"Healthyish" cookbook.

“My main goal is to give you good, doable recipes that fit into your real lives.”  Lindsay Maitland Hunt

Lindsay Maitland Hunt is a recipe developer who has devoted her career to creating recipes for everyone from college students to busy families to seasoned home cooks.  In the introduction of her cookbook, it states that Healthyish, is for anyone on the move, working long hours and trying to live a bit more healthfully.  There are 131 satisfying recipes included, with straightforward instructions, using as few pots and pans as possible, and ingredients that won’t break the bank.  Not to mention, you can find the ingredients at your everyday grocery store.  That my friends…is my kind of cookbook!

Healthyish Recipes I Love!

This cookbook is quickly becoming one of my favorites for finding easy recipes for packing my lunch to eat on the run at work, as well as great meals for when you need to fix dinner quick; it’s one of those cookbooks that when you look at the recipes, you think to yourself, “Oh man, why didn’t I think of this?”  Such serious goodness!

Apple Slice “Cookies”

There are three different recipes for these yummy Apple Slice Cookies, but really, the sky’s the limit–so try creating your own concoction of this versatile snack!

Sliced Apple Cookies!

My favorite is: Yogurt Peanut Butter Granola Apple “Cookies”

1 small sweet apple (such as Fuji or Gala)

Yogurt (I like “Oui” yogurt by Yoplait)

Oui yogurt for apple "cookies"!

1/2 cup Peanut Butter Granola (There’s a recipe for this granola in the cookbook, but you could just use one you like the best, which is what I do.)

Cut apples horizontally into 6-8 thinish slices.

Poke the seeds out of the center of each apple.

Spread slices with yogurt, then top with granola.

I’ll often sprinkle on some chocolate chips too.

Old-School Pizzeria Salad

This is one of my most favorite recipes from this fun cookbook.  Like the author, it reminds me of the salads my family got with our pizzas when I was growing up.

Old-school Pizzeria Salad.

3/4 cup canned chickpeas (garbonzo beans) rinsed well

2/3 cup chopped giardiniera pickles or banana peppers

1/2 cup cubed Provolone cheese (I prefer it grated.)

1/2 cup sliced salami pieces (You could use pepperoni.)

2 Tbsp. Dried Oregano Italian Vinaigrette (Recipe below.)

Ground sea salt and black pepper to taste

2 cups baby arugula or any mixed greens

Mix all the salad ingredients together in a salad bowl.

You could also add sun-dried or fresh cherry tomatoes.

Fold in the arugula or mixed greens just prior to serving.

Homemade Dried Oregano Italian Vinaigrette

This salad dressing recipe adds a welcome tang to any simple salad!

1-1/3 cups olive oil

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Whisk together in bowl until ingredients are completely combined.

Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 1 month. 

Shake well before each use.

Mason Jar salads.

The author suggest that a great way to enjoy this salad at work or on a picnic lunch, is to layer the ingredients in a bottle, putting the arugula in very last. 

Healthyish! Recipes for real life!

One of the things I love about this cookbook is how the author suggests changing how you serve food to give it a fresh reboot that makes for the best festive eating!   (These veggie, cheese and meat skewers have become a favorite snack!) 

As stated in the introduction of this cookbook: “Healthyish works if you’re just getting started in the kitchen or if you’ve been at the stove for years, because the author has developed each recipe with the home cook in mind.”  All I know is that I can’t wait to try more recipes in the section titled: “Treats” –they all look amazing and pretty healthy to boot!

Eating healthy quote.

“A healthy outside starts from the inside!”  Robert Urich   

Here’s to happy, healthyish eating and a wonderful summer!

Any easy, “healthyish” recipes you love that you’d share with us?


Leather Chair Reading! Books That Challenge Your Heart!

Leather Chair Reading!  Books That Challenge Your Heart!

I think we all love books where we can get lost in the fictional journeys of wonderful love stories and happy endings…but sometimes it’s good to read books that create thought-provoking insights and challenge our core beliefs, our fears and our daily routines.

"Leather Chair Reading" Books that inspire you to live better. www.mytributejournal.com

“Challenge your fears… find your potential!”  Bishop T. D. Jakes

Small Great Things  by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things book.

This book hit close to home for me, since it is about a nurse on a maternity/NICU unit.  I’d actually seen some of my co-workers reading this book over the last few years and was intrigued, but once I found out it was about a nurse and her legal wranglings for something she wasn’t guilty of, I decided the subject matter seemed a little too real, so to speak, and that reading this book might invite bad karma!?  But then, as luck would have it, I mentored a nursing student one day who convinced me that the varied and fascinating layers of the plot line would make reading this book well worth my time…and boy, was she right!

The brief summary on inside the cover flap of the book is enough to leave you on the edge of your seat…and believe me, every nail-biting chapter leaves you deeply riveted to the story being told.  Small Great Things, takes on contemporary issues that are prevalent in society today, and as a nurse, I couldn’t help but ask myself how I would have handled things if faced with some of the same circumstances!

“Ruth Jackson was a maternity nurse with more than twenty years experience.  During one of her shifts, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’d been reassigned to another patient.  The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, an African American, to touch their child.  The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery.  Does she obey the orders or does she intervene?”

Leather Chair Reading! Books That Challenge Your Heart!

I love that each section of the book is named after a different stage of labor; a nod to the character’s profession…and the rebirth, of sorts, that each character goes through during the course of this complex, but incredible story! 

Jodi Picoult tackles a myriad of tough subject matters from privilege and prejudice to justice and compassion in this novel.  At the end of the book, she also outlines how she did extensive research with a cross-section of people and communities represented in this profound story that is based on true events about a woman in Flint, Michigan, who really faced many of the scenarios detailed in this book.  Although, a little uncomfortable to read about sometimes, the author doesn’t offer easy answers to some of the age-old conflicts and inner turmoil that many people, even in this day and age, are still trying to fully grasp and find the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we can all do small things in a great way!

Martin Luther King Jr. quote.

The author references this quote in her book, explaining that any good we do, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can have lasting repercussions.

A Shot Guide To A Long Life  by David B. Angus, MD

Leather Chair Reading! Books that Challenge Your Heart!

A Short Guide To A Long Life, may be  small in size, but contains simple and powerful guidelines on how to greatly improve the quality of life, at least as far as living more healthy is concerned…and in a literal sense, challenges habits we might have that keep us from living with optimal health.  I like that it is a handy guide of common sense practices that can help us develop new patterns of personal health care using mostly inexpensive and accessible tools that are based on the latest and most reliable research–you’ll find yourself referring to it often.  I especially like that the overall focus of this book is that we should all be better at taking charge of our health and wellbeing and that the code of conduct for physicians should be that of practicing preventative medicine!

“I want doctors to treat towards health…and not treat towards disease.”  Dr. David B. Agus

The book is cleverly divided into three concise and easy to understand sections…  1) What To Do  2) What To Avoid and 3) Doctor’s Orders –Dr. Agus believes as I do, that the more concise and doable healthy guidelines are, the more we’re apt to follow through with them.  Having worked in the healthcare profession for many years, I find this approach very refreshing!

"A Short Guide To A Long Life" by Dr. David B. Agus

Each chapter has memorable titles, (ie. “Get Naked”, “Get Off Your Butt More” and “Eat Real Food” to name just a few.) simple pencil drawings, and some questions your doctor should ask you so he can personalize your health care based on your physiology, genetics, value system and individual circumstances.  Dr. Agus also strongly suggests that…..

“If your physician treats you like a textbook patient…it just might be time to make a change!”      

I found the last chapter, Doctor’s Orders, which gives a decade by decade list of things you should routinely do to create a good health plan for yourself, especially helpful.  As with any recommendations found in this book, they are based on scientific research and follow the generally accepted guidelines in the medical community, but if you are experiencing symptoms or concerns that are not within the realm of “normal” for you–be sure to consult your personal physician as soon as possible.  I also love the Health Lists compiled at the end of the book–they are the ultimate “cheat sheet” that will help you remember key facts, rules and ideas, regardless of your age, for making healthy living a lifelong quest…including, Top 10 Actions to Reduce Your Risk for IllnessTop 10 Things to Help Educate Kids About Health and Wellness, Popular Weight Loss Myths, and Top 10 Most Useful Health and Medicine Websites.

Take care of your body quote.

This book will motivate you to take a good look at the overall health habits you have in place and what ones you might need to adjust to live even better.  It will also help you realize once and for all, to find a doctor who is invested in your health and who finds it not only his responsibility, but his privilege to help educate and care for your overall wellbeing…one who holds you accountable by asking all the hard questions. Helathcare cartoon.

I love the final bit of advice Dr. Agus gives…

“Don’t make living healthy too complicated…live your life, just try to live it better every day!”

Personal growth quote!

Have you read any good books lately that really touched your heart and helped you grow personally or challenged any bad health habits?

Here’s to happy hearts and healthy living! 

Love, Mary

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

Garden Therapy!  Pretty Flower Pots!

Other than cleaning out some of the leaves and debris that have collected in my yard over the winter months, the weather is still a little too unpredictable, where I live in Utah, to do much planting in my flowerbeds, but it is getting warm enough to plant a few pretty flower pots for my porch and patio…such a fun way to get an early touch of spring color!

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

“When beautiful spring comes, and nature resumes her loveliness…the human soul is apt to be revived also!”  Harriet Jacobs  

Simple Steps To Planting Pretty Flower Pots!

As we embark on our venture of planting pretty flower pots–I think most of us have one common thought in mind…!!

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

(via Etsy)

While I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes when planting my flower pots, my Grandma Mecham(my mom’s mom) who first nurtured my love of gardening, gave me a few pointers years ago when I used to help plant her pretty flower pots!

♣  Create good drainage.  We know that pots need good drainage so the roots can receive adequate oxygen for good growth.  An easy way to do this is to buy pots that already have a hole in the bottom so that when you water your plants, the water can drain freely and doesn’t stay stagnant around the roots of your plants.  All your plant TLC care will be wasted if your flowers get root rot.

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

Larger pots require more than one hole.  You can drill your own holes with a large drill bit if your favorite pot doesn’t have any.  My husband taught me that a few layers of masking tape placed on the spot where you want to drill your hole will keep more fragile ceramic pots from cracking.

Creating good drainge for flower pots.

You’ll want to have a drainage saucer underneath your pots if they are placed on a surface you don’t want damaged by water that drains from your pots when you water them.  You can also put a smaller plain pot with plastic or ceramic water catch dish inside a bigger more decorative pot…this is a useful trick for hanging pots.  There’s such a fun variety of decorative flower pots available now at your local garden centers and home improvement stores that come with matching trays.

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

If you have a place where you don’t want to run the risk of any water damage, you can add rocks to the bottom of a flower pot to create an internal drainage system of sorts–you will just have to be careful not to over water the plants in these pots.

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

My grandma used to break her old, chipped clay pots into small pieces and put them into the bottoms of her new flower pots.

♣  Add special potting soil.  Since ordinary garden soil is too heavy and can introduce disease, be sure to use a bagged planting mix or a homemade equivalent.  My sweet grandma used to make her own potting soil in a large wheel barrel by adding a special concoction of peat moss, sand, garden compost and fertilizer, then she’d enlist my help to get it all mixed up.  If you want to mix your own potting soil, google lists a gazillion websites that will help you do just that.

Making flower pot soil.

While there may be something satisfying about mixing your own soil bend, if you’re at all like me and want to save yourself the time and hassle of figuring out the best dirt composition to help your plants thrive, there are a number of really good ready-made  flower pot soils available at your local garden nurseries.

Miracle Grow potting soil.

I personally like Miracle Grow Potting Mix because it contains moisture control beads that hold excess moisture that is then released as soil dries out, so you’ll have to water less.  It also has a special mixture of fertilizer and nutrients needed for establishing beautiful flowers and plants in your container pots, while helping them resist disease from insects and fungus.  (Miracle Grow also has a soil mix that’s recommended for succulent plants and a fortified mix that’s great as an add-in for the flowerbeds in your yard.) 

♣  Use proper planting techniques.  You’ll want to buy enough plants to fill your container with a couple of inches between them, or you could do one large plant–the root ball should be no larger than about half the size of the pot you’re planning to use to put it in.  I like to buy bigger, more mature plants because they are well established and will bloom quicker.  Depending on where your flower pot will be located, (shade or sun) you’ll want to buy plants that will do well in those areas.  Take the time of year into consideration too.  Flowers like pansies and primrose can withstand cool spring evenings, while plants like geraniums, million bells, and ganzanias, to name a few, thrive in the summer heat.  In addition to planting flowers in your pots, putting in some pretty greenery will give them some unique texture.  Plant experts at neighborhood shops are a great source of information as you plan and shop for your flowers.


A quick planting review:  First, decide how you want to arrange your flowers, also pinch off any dead blooms or leaves.  Second, dig holes a few inches deeper and wider than attached root ball of the plant.  Third, pour a little water that has been mixed with a root starter into each hole before placing a plant in it–this will give a little boost to the flower’s roots so they get a good head start and will bloom quicker. (Since our flower pot season in Utah is relatively short, we’ll take every day of flower blooms we can get!)  Fourth, cover the root ball of each flower with a sufficient amount of potting soil, (a couple of inches) and put some a little ways up the stem to where the lowest leaves are developed so that the plant is anchored well and the root system isn’t bare to the elements.  As you smooth the dirt around your flowers, keep the level of the soil a few inches below the rim of the pot so the potting soil doesn’t spill over the rim of the pot when you water.  Fifth, once everything is planted, water flowers enough to leave soil moist, (until water barely starts to drip into your flower pot saucer) but not overly wet; watering like this every 2-3 days is key to growing and maintaining pretty flower pots!

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

Since flower pots do require more frequent watering, some of the nutrients are more likely to be washed away from the plant’s root system, so if you want happy, healthy flowers, use a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks according to package instructions.  I personally like Bayer Advance 2 in 1 Insect Control Plus Fertilizer, it comes in spikes or liquid form for easy use.

♣  General maintenance and upkeep.  Many plants continue to produce new flowers if you remove spent blooms.  Pinch off dead flowers (deadhead) just above a leaf or bud.  When plants begin to look wilted and past their prime, pull them out carefully and replace them with new ones; doing this also makes it so you can easily transition from one season to another and keep your flower pots looking fresh and lush.  As you water, you may need to add a new layer of potting soil or mulch to your container pots to keep the root systems covered well.  As already mentioned, fertilize pots regularly with a bloom boost.  Guard against common flower pests such as aphids, spider mite and mealy bugs by spraying every few weeks with an organic pest control.  I use Bonide Eight Insect and Disease Control Spray because it treats any fungus disease plants may get as well.

Maintaining spring flower pots.

Pretty spring flower pots in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to experiment, get creative, and express your unique personality when you plant your pretty flower pots!

Little Things Mean A Lot! www.mytributejournal.com

“For children, most importantly, being in a flower garden is something magical!”  Fritjof Capra

Happiness is where I planted it!Flowering houseplants www.mytributejournal.com

“When you plant flowers…you decorate your soul!”  Luther Burbank

You can check out other simple spring gardening tips here.  I’ve also got some fun ideas for planting a fairy garden here.

I’m curious to know what flowers you have planted in container pots that are low maintenance and bloom beautifully?

–Happy planting!  Love, Mary