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!

Creating Your Home Sweet Home! Outdoor Living!

Creating Your Home Sweet Home!  Outdoor Living!

Summer and outdoor living, along with patio potluck picnics just seem to go hand in hand…cozy backyard spaces have become peaceful havens to help us escape the busy schedules of our everyday lives!

Creating Your Home Sweet Home! Outdoor Living!

Much like the rooms indoors, an outdoor living space evolves to accommodate our family’s needs…but it’s sure to be a popular place to gather if a few key things are taken into consideration.

  Include comfortable seating! 

Nothing says come stay awhile than a comfy and inviting place to sit.  My husband and I always look forward to some special gatherings with family and friends out on our patio during the summer!

Patio decor! www.mytributejournal.com

“Come sit with me on the patio…the drinks are cold and the friendship’s free.”  Tribute Journal

Quaint southern porches.

I fell in love with the quaint, inviting outdoor living spaces of the south when my husband and I visited my son and his family in Augusta, Georgia last year. 

♦  Make it cool and shady!

I think you’ll agree that one of the main purposes of outdoor living is to provide a cool and shady retreat from the glaring sun and hot summer weather.  Nothing can cool off a space quicker than a ceiling fan–and believe me, there’s a wide assortment available depending on your style and the mood you want to create.  An electrician can add one without too much hassle.

Patio ceiling fans.

“It’s always a good idea to take a smallish nap or two in a nice summer breeze.”   Winnie the Pooh

Vintage floor fan by Oak Tree Vintage.

For added circulation, I put this vintage floor fan on my patio.  It has various speeds and turns from side to side.  It is from www.oaktreevintage.com

♦  Set the mood with fun lighting!

Not only is good lighting integral to setting an inviting mood to your outdoor living space, but it also extends the hours of use well past the time when the sun sets.  String lights give you the most bang for your buck and add a festive feeling to your patio too.  My daughter recently added these lights to a pergola they built last year; it becomes a magical place to get together with her family come nighttime!

Patio string lights.

“Outdoors is where you realize…what is beautiful, what is rare, what is true!”  Ben Okri

Outdoor patio lighting.

How fun are these unique lighting ideas to give our patio’s the perfect ambience!

♦  A grill is a patio must-have!

Good food always adds to any outdoor living experience, and summer food cooked on a grill is everyone’s favorite, it seems.  Whether it’s a fancy grill with all the bells and whistles or a simple briquet barbeque, I think a grill is an outdoor patio must-have!  For large groups, my husband especially loves his Black Stone gas grill.

Black Stone gas grill.

“Grilling takes the formality out of entertaining–everyone wants to get involved.”  Bobby Flay

Summer grilling.

My husband knew he had taught our son to keep his priorities straight when he saw that he got a nice grill for his patio when he moved into his new house!

Toddler grilling play set.

I would say that my son also firmly solidified his “man-card” when he purchased these cute grilling accessories for my grandson, Elliot’s backyard swing set!  

♦  Have some kid friendly spaces!

Whether you have young kids of your own, or grandkids who come to visit like I do, kid friendly spaces for your outdoor living areas are a necessity to give them a place to play and make them feel welcome!  It’s as simple as getting a small table set that they can eat at and special dishes that you use just for them.  This was one of the most fun areas to create on my patio.

"Lunch Bunch" on the patio www.mytributejournal.com

"Lunch Bunch" on the patio! www.mytributejournal.com

“At the end of the day…your hair should be messy and your eyes sparkling!”  Shanti

Water table for kids.

Outdoor playhouse.

You can’t beat the fun water table or playhouse that my daughter has added to a corner of her patio, they’re perfect for extra summer creativity for her girls! 

♦  Add your special touches! 

Just like our inside home décor, I think our outdoor living spaces should be a fun reflection of our personalities–filled with things we love; it should be a place where we automatically feel we can sit down and relax and take a break from our daily grind…a little escape from reality!

Patio decor www.mytributejournal.com

“Taking time to do nothing, often brings everything in your life into perspective!”  Doe Zantamata

Creating Your Home Sweet Home! Outdoor Living!

Patio furniture www.mytributejournal.com

My patio is a nod to nature and simplicity…I love being surrounded by plants and flowers.  I go here to recharge and remember that I am very blessed!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer! 

William Wadsworth quote.

What do you love most about outdoor living?

–Love, Mary

I Am A Proud American!

I Am A Proud American!

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it seemed to become “trendy” for some to downplay the great legacy of honoring our founding fathers and upholding the laws in America that make it such a special land of promise!

Proud American quote!

Why I Am A Proud American!

I know it sounds simplistic, but I believe that America is worthy of our deep admiration and devotion!  I regard the daily freedoms I enjoy in this great country as precious gifts that give me the opportunity to contribute, love, and dream as I work hard to create an even brighter future for those who will follow after me.  While the nightly news might convince me otherwise, I am a proud American!  Here are just a few reasons why:

Laws of the Land

Equal justice under the law is at the heart of American democracy.  President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Ours is a government of liberty, by, through, and under the law.  No man is above it and no man below it.”   Faithfulness to the laws allows us to live in a civil society in which everyone’s rights are respected, where each of us is guaranteed liberty and equality of opportunity.  My parents also taught me that obeying the law meant that everyone is accountable; my desires should never infringe upon the rights of others.  If we are dissatisfied with a law and want it changed, we need to become active in the judicial system and join forces with like-minded people and vote for leaders who will fight for the changes we seek through the proper channels as defined by the laws of the land.  My hope is that as a nation we can always try to bring about change with decency and kindness.  History has shown us that in the long run,  profanity, obstinance, and misuse of authority, rarely lends itself to a positive dynamic in providing a better lifestyle for a country’s citizens.

Obeying the laws of the land in America.

“Democracy cannot breathe, indeed it will die, if those enjoined to protect it and uphold the law snuff it out with no consequences.”  Marian Wright Edelman 

• Education Opportunities

You’ve heard the term, “Knowledge is power” –unlike many places in the world where access to even the most basic education is severely limited, there are numerous education opportunities in the United States.  My father was a professor at our local university and truly believed that getting a good education was fundamental to personal growth.  Education really is one of the best tools for social change, economic development and prosperity in a country.  I also believe it is ultimately the driving force behind improving the quality of human life; it’s at the core whereby the combined knowledge, skills and values are passed on to a new generation.  When armed with a good education and the experiences that it provides, each of us can better reach our potential and make a more positive impact on society when we are gainfully employed, take responsibility for providing for ourselves and our families, and build on the achievements made by those who came before us…it gives us a much broader perspective of the advantages we enjoy in America!!

Plato quote on education.

Quality Healthcare 

Having been a maternity and NICU nurse now for many years now, I have definitely had a bird’s-eye view of the many advancements and quality of care available to the citizens of the United States.  We seem to hear a lot lately about the problems with healthcare in America, and while the need to improve availability and decrease costs is an ongoing concern…let’s not forget what is good about the quality of our healthcare system.

According to the highly acclaimed Health Catalyst Center, that tracks significant healthcare outcomes, senior advisor, Dr. John Haughom, shares via their website, some of the impressive data that shows how the overall health of the American population has significantly improved during the past century due to innovative medical research and technology.

Here are some to consider:

1. The average life expectancy has increased from just shy of 50 years old in the early 1900’s to 80 years due to preventative health education and immunizations that have alleviated the outbreak of epidemic diseases.

2. The availability of preemptive cancer screening.  With their regular yearly check-ups, women will receive a Pap smear which indicates cervical and uterine cancer, they will also receive a mammogram after the age of 40 unless family history suggests they be done at an earlier age.  Tests are routinely done for colon cancer after age 50, as well. 

3.  Americans receive state of the art treatment for chronic diseases such as high blood cholesterol and heart disease.  Statin drugs may be given and education is available to help in the prevention of strokes and heart attacks.   

4.  The rate of hospital acquired conditions (ie. adverse drug events or surgical infections) has improved due to strict requirements for professional licensing, clinical practices founded on scientific research, and high standards for accreditation of the hospitals themselves. 

5. Health care spending per person has grown steadily in the last several decades, from $355 per capita in 1970 to $9,900 in 2016.  On average, other wealthy countries spend about half as much per person on health spending than is spent in the United States.    

Healthcare in America.

“Your greatest wealth is your health!”  Virgil

• Extraordinary Bravery and Valor 

We often hear America referred to as “the land of the free and home of the brave” …due in part, to the fortitude and devotion of brave soldiers who have answered the call to duty despite the challenges, sacrifice and hardships they may face.  Throughout our nation’s history, dedicated military personnel have safeguarded our freedoms and way of life.  Over the past decade, the current generation of soldiers have proved themselves worthy of their forebears’ distinction.  In the darkest days of the war in Irag, their committed resolve seemed to surpass all expectations.  In Afghanistan, the longest war in our nation’s history, they have thwarted the pervasive capabilities of transnational terrorists and are providing the strong leadership needed in overseeing that the necessary conditions are set in place so that no future radical enemies will settle there or in any of the other surrounding countries.  I am in awe of our military and their steadfast dedication, valiant sacrifices and selfless service…I’m so grateful for their extraordinary bravery and courageous valor!  

I Am A Proud American! Brave Military!

“American soldiers constantly demonstrate their uncanny ability to assess stressful situations, adapt quickly and make sound decisions, often at risk of life, but without hesitation.  I’m absolutely convinced that this generation of young men and women, who willingly put their lives on the line for their country, is the next Greatest Generation.”  Gen. Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army 

 •  Entrepreneurial Spirit and Work Ethic

The history of American economy provides the largest and richest study on how entrepreneurs have advanced technology, organizations and social patterns in America.  I recall that my history teachers taught that the first colonists were considered the earliest entrepreneurs in this country, as they carried with them a positive outlook and an exemplary work ethic as they pursued their dreams of freedom and success.  America is still rich with opportunities today, and very much supports the pursuit of commerce and business advancements via the bright minds and diligent efforts of its citizens.  But the American Dream, so to speak, still involves believing in the moral benefit of hard work and its ability to enhance our character so we can achieve our goals and be contributing members of society.  I believe we should take ownership of our own prosperity–therein lies the ongoing motivation to persevere and even thrive as we work hard to create the life we envision for ourselves!  There’s nothing quite like a healthy dose of creativity and drive to turn our dreams into our reality!

Colin Powell quote on sucess.

This is a short list of some of the reasons why I am a proud American and why I love this country I call home.  It’s a huge privilege to celebrate the freedoms I enjoy as a citizen of this great land.

Take time to love your country and have a happy and blessed Independence Day!

Please take a minute to expand our perspective and share what makes you a proud American.

–With love, Mary      

Drink The Wild Air…An Ode To Summer!

Drink The Wild Air…An Ode To Summer!

I love living where I can experience all four seasons…but summertime definitely seems to bring its own brand of unique energy to everyday life…we always seem to find ourselves in that perfect juxtaposition between taking advantage of the flurry of activities that are available this time of year and enjoying some leisure time while still maintaining a little daily structure too!  Perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best…

Emerson's summer quote.
Summer days will be here and gone before you know it, so as much as we might love to throw caution to the wind and let summer evolve with carefree abandon…here’s a few suggestions that might help us each make the best use of our time while still allowing for plenty of fun!

Sun symbol.


Make a plan…but be flexible!

Kids…and mom’s deserve to sleep in a little and be a bit lazy the first few days of summer vacation, but after that, I think making a loose schedule is a good idea so you don’t find yourself in pajamas eating cereal every afternoon!  When our children were young, my husband and I liked to get their input on some of the things they wanted to do during the summer and write them down so they could check the list throughout the summer and see what was planned and when we planned on doing them–looking forward to something is good motivation for getting your daily routines accomplished. (ie. reading, jobs, practicing, etc.)  We also made it clear that depending on weather, work and other obligations, we might have to change things up on occasion, but that’s what makes summer so much fun…and a bit unpredictable.  While you may choose to be more flexible on some of your normal rules and routines, the mom/nurse in me always liked to maintain enough structure to ensure that my children were getting the nutrition, exercise and sleep they all needed.

Planning a summer schedule.

“Summertime is always the best of what might be…if you make a few plans!”  Charles Bowden

Sun symbol.


 Focus on quality time!

I worked part-time when my children were still home during the summer, so being more mindful of planning quality time together when I was home was very important to me.  You don’t have to go on a family vacation to make family time a priority.  Check your local Chamber of Commerce or city summer guides for unique things to do in the area where you live.  It’s amazing how many great adventures you can experience close to home–enjoying a ballgame, neon bowling, a fun water park, and hikes up local canyons were some of the things we loved to do…as well as reading a good book together, working in the yard, enjoying family game night, or trying some new places to eat out.  Connecting in these ways always seemed to create the perfect atmosphere for lively conversation and genuine appreciation for one another!  Lucky for me…I now get to do many of these same things with my fun grandchildren!

Mueller Park trail sign.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt!”  John Muir

Sun symbol.


Take the road less traveled!

If you’re planning a family trip during the peak vacations months of summer and you want to avoid the follies of Chevy Chase and his family in National Lampoon’s “Vacation” movie, it might be a good idea to travel to a destination that’s a little less known but still packed with a lot of fun activities and great experiences.  We had a boat growing up and we often planned trips to lesser known lakes and marina’s during the peak summer months, allowing for calmer waterskiing water and a lot more choices when it came to picking a camping spot.  If a popular amusement park is on the agenda, going during the middle of the week obviously helps you avoid longer lines and wait times.  I’ve also found that planning a vacation before or after peak holiday weeks, like the 4th of July, usually makes any travel destination less crowded.  I recently joined an online travel guide group that gives suggestions for unusual things to do in each state–I can’t wait to visit some of them!  Even if your vacation spot is a well-known tourist site, browse the internet or a good travel book for some “off the beaten path” exploits!  I’ve listed a few other great travel tips in this post.

Off the beaten path ode to summer!

“You must be a little fearless to take the road less traveled!”  Lailah Gifty Akita

Sun symbol.


Try something new!

As parents, I think we all want to provide an assortment of new experiences for our children so they can try their hand at various activities that could become a fun new hobby or talent, but let’s not forget to get in on the fun ourselves–you just never know when you might discover something that helps define a new chapter of your life…and summer seems to be one of the best times to do that.  My husband believes that we shouldn’t just be observers of our children’s summer fun, instead, we should experience it with them!

An Ode to Summer! Biking Signs!

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the human race!”  H. G. Wells 

I’ve started doing a little biking in the last few years, and while I don’t feel the urge to do it competitively like my husband when he does triathlon sprints, I find it’s fun exercise and a neat way to see our hometown from a different perspective.

An Ode To Summer! Tennis Lessons!

Signing your children up for classes with your city’s recreation programs is a great way to let them try a new sport without having to invest a lot of money until you see if they like it.  On a whim, my daughter had her girls try tennis lessons; not only did they love playing, they seemed to have a natural knack for it too!!

Sun symbol.


Keep it simple!

While we look forward to the opportunity to spend more time together as a family during the summer months, filling our days with the millions of options available to keep us busy and entertained, there is only so much parental energy–and our children’s congenial attitudes are not limitless.  I’ve found that if I didn’t over-complicate my life with things I thought I “should” be doing all summer, that my days naturally went smoother…besides, it’s good for kids to see that every minute of every day doesn’t need to be planned out and that the best summer memories are often those where they just enjoy some good old-fashioned leisure time.  I also tried to have some down-time after lunch when my kids were home.  They could read or play a quiet game in their rooms or perhaps watch a TV show for half an hour.  I’ll admit though, I’m happy that I raised my family before the great drawing force of the internet–my kids weren’t distracted by social media, living vicariously through their friend’s summer activities…instead they couldn’t wait to go outside and create their own adventures, letting their imaginations go wild!  (I’ll never forget the wedding they held in our garage, complete with dandelion bouquets and vanilla wafer refreshments!)  When my oldest daughter and her husband were looking for a place to settle down and raise their family, I loved it when she told me that she wanted to find a neighborhood where her kids could grow up just like she did…where they walk out the front door to friends who ride bikes, sell Kool-aid, run through the sprinklers, and play for hours on end using the simple creativity of their own minds!

Ode To Summer! Koolaid for sale!

“From here to there, and there to here, fun and funny things are everywhere!”  Dr. Suess

As parents we can often feel pressured to have everything Pinertest” perfect when it comes to entertaining our children…but their simple artistic efforts are what matter most when doing an activity; the stress levels are kept in check too.

When we get together as a family now, listening to my kids reminisce about their fun childhood summers fills my heart…those days have set a good foundation for all the wonderful times they enjoy now as they raise their young families!

Summer fun quote.

“Every summer has its own special story!”  Tribute Journal

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

I’d love to know how you balance your summer activities.  Do you have any summer traditions?

–Best summer wishes to you!  Mary