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!

Doing All The Summer Things!

Doing All The Summer Things!

Each summer seems to go by faster every year, and since we’re already well into the first week of June…let’s get planning and doing all the summer things that we love so much!

While you may have some exotic trip or extravagant summer plans in the works, I’m just going to share a few things here that will help you make the most of your summer by enjoying some timeless activities and simple, everyday things!

  • Rise and Shine!  

While it’s tempting to sleep summer mornings away, I find that those quiet early morning moments spent watching a sunrise or doing a little reading on my patio before everyone else gets up, often provides me with the extra inspirational boost I need to be more mindful (and grateful) throughout the rest of my day!

“Taking time to enjoy an early morning will bless your whole day.”  Henry David Thoreau

  • Be a Tourist in Your Hometown! 

Have you ever driven by a certain new place in your neighborhood or community time and time again thinking, I really should stop and check it out.  Why not make new memories while you trek familiar territory.  Pretend you’re a visitor in your own hometown and make an itinerary for a pretend visit with family or friends.  (Check out some fun ways to explore your hometown here.)

“Go where you feel the most alive.”  C. S. Lewis

(If a big family trip is a part of your summer adventures, you’ll want to check out this post on implementing a few key plans ahead of time to help make your travel dreams come true!)  

  • Plant a Garden!

Imagine your first bite into a vegetable that you grew in your own garden.  In most things, the best part is in the finished product, but in gardening there is joy throughout the process.  Don’t limit yourself to vegetables…you can grow herbs and flowers too.  I find there are few things more rewarding than enjoying the fruits (or vegetables) of your labors.  As the saying goes…life begins in a garden!  (For some simple gardening tips click here and here.)

“Gardening is the purest of human pleasures.”  Francis Bacon

  • Go Back In Time!

Consider the things you loved to do in the summer as a child…all those simple things you enjoyed with wild abandon when you were growing up have most likely become some of your fondest memories.  Channel your inner child, then introduce your kids (or grandchildren) to your all-time favorite activities!  I remember running through the sprinklers, (no fancy water parks) building a make-shift club house in an old, dilapidated garden shed (creativity and imagination were limitless) and playing kick-the-can in our yard most every night…(often with my parents visiting and laughing with my friend’s parents on the sidelines)…to be sure–my summer’s as a child were spontaneous and magical!

“Summertime is always the best of what might be!”  Charles Bowden

  • Make a Summer Learning Bucket List!

The human brain is hard wired for learning, and while school is something you and your family have gladly abandoned for a few months, summer is a great time to learn something new that you’ve always wanted to try but have never gotten around to doing.  You may be surprised to discover how much you truly love learning when the subject is something that interests you.  A few things on my summer learning bucket list are:

Try yoga.  My kids love this mind/body exercise, so I’m finally going to try it out.

Read a biography on an admirable person and what motivated them to succeed.

Ditch the TV and listen to an inspiring podcast while working around my house.

“A little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about!”  John Mayer

Summer definitely seems to be that idyllic time of year when so many fun memories are made as we do all the summer things.  But let’s also make the most of this short-lived season by remembering that there’s nothing like the lazy days of summer when we actually take some well-deserved time to be a little more low-key and recharge our batteries, so to speak…before you know it, school will start again!

I’d love to know some of the fun things you look forward to doing this summer.

I hope you have a happy summer! 

♥ Mary         


Fun And Funny Moments Of Motherhood!

Fun And Funny Moments Of Motherhood!

Motherhood is a funny thing!  As chaotic and frustrating as it can get sometimes…it can also be equally delightful and fulfilling!  In the day in and day out battlefield of messes and whining, the lighthearted and hilarious moments of motherhood tend to get lost.  So let’s take a step back and consider some of those occasions that, as mother’s, have made us smile–and even provided some wonderful, spontaneous belly laughs!

Mother’s seem to know the right thing to say in any predicament!

My husband grew up in a large family of nine children.  As you can imagine, mealtimes were a lively joust of food being served, thrashing elbows and boisterous chatter.  He says that there was an ongoing joke in their household that you had to have at least one foot firmly planted on the floor at all times as you “fought” to get your portion of food!  While that is obviously a bit of an exaggeration, my cute hubby does have the starring role in a minor dinner mishap that has become part of his family’s folklore!  But like any good mother, his mom saved the day with her fast thinking and quick wit.

My husband has shared with me the funny story of how one evening as his family sat down for supper, he started shaking a bottle of Italian dressing to put on his salad.  He didn’t notice that the lid wasn’t tightly secured and his dad became the direct target of the errant dressing as it spewed from the bottle.  For one fleeting moment…there was pure silence at their usual bustling dinner table as the tangy liquid dripped from his dad’s glasses and nose.  Without missing a beat however, his mom handed the salad bowl down the table and said in a laughter-filled voice, “Well, pass your dad the salad so he can have some lettuce with his dressing.”  What could have been a very tense and stressful moment, turned into lighthearted laughter while everyone gave their napkins to their dad so he could wipe himself off.

Mother’s will work for hugs!

Children seem to have an innate way of knowing when their mother’s are most in need of one of the happiest dividends of being a mother.

My little grandson, Elliot, is a precocious two-year-old with an infectious laugh and boundless energy.   Days with him are busy and active, but are always punctuated with those priceless moments when he propels himself into his mom’s arms and offers warm hugs with unabashed love and trust!  Obviously, occasions like these provide some major smile moments with our kids when we take the time to truly enjoy them; they definitely make the sacrifices of motherhood all the more worthwhile!  (My son and daughter-in-law waited a long time for these hugs from this special little guy. You can read their adoption story here.)

“My favorite place is inside your hug!”  Winnie the Pooh

Kids say the darndest things…because they learn from their mothers!

If we’re lucky the wisdom and sass of our mom’s will rub off on us and set us up for being able to tackle life in the “real” world!

As a pre-teen, my brother was begrudgingly helping my mother with some chores one Saturday morning.  The story goes that when he held the dustpan as she bent down to sweep up some dirt and crumbs, he inspected the top of her head and noted aloud the number of gray hairs she was getting.  My mom rhetorically replied that they were a result of her children’s bad actions and the worry they caused her.  It’s been embellished over the years, but apparently my brother responded with great satire and drama in his voice, that that explained why grandma (my mom’s mom) had only grey hairs on her head!  Ever the gracious person that she was, my mom just stood up and smiled…then added a few extra chores to his list!

♥ Playing with children is happiness therapy!  

How many times have you found yourself cracking up at something your kids said or did while they were playing and thought, I’ve got to write that down before I forget it.  In today’s society, playtime is often thought of as a time for children to have a short break from other, more serious, learning.  But if we stop and think about it, in some respects, creative play is the crucial framework of childhood that can help kids become productive, well-balanced adults!

Recently, my daughter captured this sweet scene as her two year old daughter had full reign of the toys while her older sisters were at school.  Bunny beauty parlor was in full swing, complete with ear curls!  Not only is this hilarious on so many levels, (check out the very attentive look on her face) but it also created a neat moment for my daughter to join this precious girl on the floor to get an update on all her clients!  Watching our children use their nurturing abilities in these types of situations, can’t help but give us a glimpse into the effectiveness of our own mothering skills.

“Play gives children a place to practice what they are learning.”  Mr. Rogers

♥ Mother’s know that laughter is the best medicine! 

My mom was an avid proponent of viewing motherhood through the veiled, tongue-in-cheek parody of renown editorial humorist and author, Erma Bombeck, who wrote about suburban home life in a nationally syndicated column from 1960 until her death in 1996.  Like Ms. Bombeck, my mother occasionally bemoaned some of the absurdities of life that were often embraced by modern society, but lacked the common sense of a wise mother!  As mother’s, we try not to take life too seriously and just go with the flow–that way we don’t embarrass our children too much!  We also learn to laugh a lot along the way–mostly at ourselves!

Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving!

I’m going to stop punishing my children by saying, “Never mind!  I’ll do it myself.”

The term “working mother” is redundant!

Seize the moment!  Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the desert cart!

Who in their infinite wisdom decreed that Little League uniforms be white?  Certainly not a mother!

To all you neat women out there…do something to celebrate yourselves every day!

This is my kind of Mother’s Day greeting!

I’d love to hear about any fun or funny moments you’ve experienced with your mom or children! 

Much love, Mary

The Cookbook Challenge! A Toast To Toast!

The Cookbook Challenge!  A Toast To Toast!

My husband has always considered toast a nice side kick to his breakfast plate…so imagine his surprise when he became aware that “fancy” toast, as he calls it, has become a new craze that’s sweeping the nation.  Thickly sliced artisan toast, slathered with unusual spreads and layered with any assortment of unique toppings, is definitely having its moment, so to speak, and it’s a scrumptious trend I’m all too happy to embrace.

“Part of the secret to success in life is to eat what you like!” Mark Twain

The Art Of Toasting Up Bread!

While fun egg toast has long been one of our family breakfast traditions, open up any magazine or cookbook dedicated to amping up the taste and enjoyment of everyday foods…and you’ll find that nowadays there is indeed an art to toasting and topping bread!

My kid’s favorite part of egg toast was the little circle cut-out of bread they used to dip in the egg cooked in the middle of the toast.

Avocado Toast  Cooking Light

I’ve had a subscription to Cooking Light magazine for years, and as far as a basic avocado toast recipe goes…I like theirs the best! 

1/2 small avocado

1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

1 slice whole grain artisan bread

1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

In small bowl, combine avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Gently mash with the back of a fork.  Top toasted bread with mixture.  Add any other desired toppings and drizzle with a little olive oil.  So good! 

I like my avocado toast with sliced tomatoes and a little balsamic vinaigrette. 

(via Cooking Light magazine)

Your creativity will help you explore an assortment of toppings that will make this toast a genius breakfast or healthy snack!!

If a sweet toast recipe is more to your liking when getting your day off to a good start, this fun twist on traditional French toast by Ree Drummond, of Pioneer Woman fame, is breakfast perfection!

Crunchy French Toast Sticks  The Pioneer Woman Cooks

My husband and I are big fans of the Pioneer Woman cooking show and her no fluff approach to deliscious, down home cooking!

12 slices Texas toast

(Thick slices of French bread are good too.)

6 eggs whisked lightly

1/2 cup half and half

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups panko crumbs

1 1/2 cups crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal

(I like to use Honey Bunches of Oats cereal.)

2 tbsp. melted butter or margarine

Warm maple syrup for serving

Cut the slices of Texas toast into three strips.  Add half and half, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon to whisked eggs.  In a shallow dish (I use a glass pie plate) stir together panko crumbs, crushed cereal and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. 

Use a fork to stir in the melted butter so that the crumbs are slightly moist.  One by one quickly dunk bread strips in the egg mixture, then lay them in the cereal crumbs, sprinkling and pressing as needed to get good coverage.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes (until golden brown) in a 425 degree oven.  You can freeze these for later use too.  Serve with warm syrup.  

At the end of the recipe, Ms. Drummond states that because these Crunchy French Toast Sticks bring out the kid at heart in all of us…..you will feel happy about life when you are eating these.  I have to agree with her!

Whether spread with simple ingredients or amped up to gourmet level–no doubt about it, warm bread is the ultimate comfort food!

“I grew up kissing books and bread!”  Salman Rushdie

Have you tried Avocado toast?  What are some of your favorite toast condiments?

–Happy eating, friends!  ♥ Mary