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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!

Cinderella Days! Let’s Party!

Cinderella Days!  Let’s Party!

Cinderella Days! www.mytributejournal.comI don’t know of too many little girls who don’t love American Girl dolls.  My daughters loved them and now my granddaughters are enjoying playing with their life-like dolls; (the new 14 1/2 inch WellieWisher dolls are darling) along with the books, movies and varied accessories, they create the best make-believe fun!

On a recent trip our local William and Sonoma kitchen store, I found out that the American Girl franchise has expanded the enchantment of their product to include party planning and baking books for even more fun with the real little girls in our lives!  I gave my two older granddaughters the party planning book for Christmas accompanied with a note that said we’d plan a few parties for family and friends throughout the year!  For our first official Cinderella Days of 2017, we threw a party a few weeks ago to celebrate all the things we love about our family!!

American Gilr party book.

The American Girl Party Book is full of fun and easy ideas for little girls who want to help plan a special party for their family!

American Girl dolls. "Lets Party!"

Of course, Makena and Marli’s American Girl dolls were included in our first big party event!  (I ordered their cute, little aprons with matching ones for their dolls from the fun Etsy shop, Sweet Apronz N Cupcakes.)

A week before their party, the girls and I got together and planned what we wanted to do and made a list of the things we’d need to buy at the store.  The anticipation and preparation for the party was almost as much fun as the actual event!

Americn Girl "Let's Party!"

There are several darling party invitation ideas included in the book, but one of the things I loved the most about our party was the cute, handmade invitations that Makena made–complete with scented stickers!  I mean seriously…how adorable is this!!!

Cinderella Days! Let's Party!

I’ve always been a firm believer that if you want your children to take a personal interest in a special project–get them involved!  These cute girls were a whirlwind of activity and culinary creativity as they helped make every detail of this special party come to life!

Makena and Marli had little menus, seated their “guests” with great decorum and served the food like well-trained maître d’s!  Their enthusiastic role-playing was simply too cute for words!

American Girl Party book food.

Food served in miniature size is always a hit at any party!  The menu included mini sloppy joes, ham rollups, veggies and chips…

Mini No-Bake Cheesecakes

…and mini no-bake raspberry cheesecakes–which were admittedly the most favorite entrée to make and eat!

Here’s the adapted version we made of the Mini No-Bake Cheesecake recipe that was in the American Girl Party book.

No-Bake Cheesecake recipe

Single mini no-bake cheesecake

My granddaughters loved garnishing the tops of the cheesecakes!  You could change out the jam and fruit for what you love best.

It tickled me so much to see how this activity sparked the spirit of camaraderie, organization and unabashed creativity with these two cute granddaughters…mostly it was just so much fun!  We’re all looking forward to planning our next party!

American Girl Party book!

“You rarely succeed in life unless you have some fun along the way!”  Vikas Runwal

This cute party book gave a lot of darling suggestions for fabulous party planning, but left plenty of room for children’s imaginations to run wild!

Any fun parties you’ve planned or attended lately?  We are always looking for more fun ideas!

–Mary

Valentine Gifts From The Heart!

Valentine Gifts From The Heart!

Although I’m a firm believer that we should give gifts of love all year long to keep our relationships strong…Valentine’s Day definitely offers the perfect opportunity to find great gifts from the heart for those we love!

Valentine Gifts From the Heart!

My mom always gave such fun, clever gifts; she often told me that when you thought about the stage of life the person was in, as well as a few things they loved, then combined it with a little personal flair–gift giving was easy!  My husband and I have found that we love to give gifts where we get to share experiences and adventures with those we love.  With these things in mind…here’s a few gift ideas from the heart that you could adapt for the Valentines in your life!

Gifts Of Time For Those Deep In The Trenches Of Parenthood!

I remember when I was a busy, young mom with one child or another pulling on my leg or screaming at the top of their lungs for attention, one of the best gifts my husband could give me when he got home from work was a grocery sack containing one of my favorite magazines, accompanied with a few special treats…the best part was that he’d take the kids outside to play for awhile or take them to get a fun treat of their own while I enjoyed an hour or so of uninterrupted time to myself!

Valentine Gifts From The Heart!

If there are any young mothers in your life–pick-up a fun magazine or two at the drug store, (in this digital age, it’s probably rare that they get any of these) take her kids for an hour or so and let her enjoy some much needed time alone!

Valentine's Day coupon.

On a weekend, you could arrange to tend the kids so that both parents could go to lunch–your treat!  Time together as a couple is always a welcome gift for busy, young parents.

(Click here for some other fun ways to get your cupid on as a couple!)

Curly Girl card.

Once in awhile you could even arrange for the husbands to watch the kids so the two of you can go out together! 

Gifts Of Togetherness For Our Children And Grandkids! ♥ 

Valentine’s Day certainly doesn’t need to be an extension of Christmas for our children and grandchildren, but it can be just as special when we consider each child and their unique personalities.  Much like their adult counterparts, I think kids just love spending time together doing fun activities!  My husband and I love sharing experiences with our kids and their families.

Bountiful Bowling! www.mytributejournal.com

A Valentine’s Day bowling date complete with fun prizes or monetary gifts for the most strikes, the lowest score, the best form…etc. always proves to be a good time!  Hamburgers, French fries and root beer floats are also a good addition to this celebration! 

I have a friend at work who does a progressive dinner with her kids the weekend before Valentine’s Day, each sharing their culinary talents on the part of dinner they’ve been assigned.  How fun does this sound!  I can’t wait to do this when my children all live close by–I can just imagine the great conversations and laughter we’ll enjoy!

Chocolate Trifle Dessert www.mytributejournal.com

Whether you do a progressive dinner or simply plan on a romantic dinner for two, serving this Chocolate Trifle will give you your Valentine’s Day chocolate fix.  (Find the recipe here.)

Heart art puppets! www.mytributejournal.com

In the past, I have put on “heart art” puppet shows with my grandchildren.  So much fun!  (You can get the details here.)

A Valentine Tea Party! www.mytributejournal.com

Hosting a fun Valentine’s tea party is also a fun way to give from your heart to those you love.  (Check out the fun here.) 

Gifts Of Loving Care For Grandparents And The Elderly! ♥  

Time flies when you’re having fun…and in a blink of an eye it seems the demands of young children, job workloads, and other time crunches no longer occupy your days as they once did.  I believe the benefits of being committed to our families and other responsibilities during the earlier stages of our lives is that the rewards come back ten fold as we get older.  One thing I used to love to do for my parents, especially when they couldn’t drive long distances to come visit us, was to take the holiday fun to them!

XOXO Plates for blog entry

A fun meal served in their home on festive dinnerware accompanied with some lively conversation, always proves to be such a great gift for those loved ones that will always hold a special place in our hearts!   (These unique XOXO plates are from Pier 1 Imports.)

Gifts From The Heart!

Another neat gift idea from the heart for grandparents or an elderly neighbor would be to get your kids involved and prepare a fun Valentine’s countdown where you include homemade cards, recent photos together, and maybe a hardware gift card for grandpa and a special shopping date with grandma.  I think they’d love some coupons for helping them with a few jobs around their house and yard that they could redeem as needed throughout the year. 

Valentine's Words of Wisdom book.

A unique gift from the heart would be to make a collection of the wise advice your parents have given you over the years and jot them down in a special “Valentine’s Word of Wisdom” booklet.  How surprised will your parents be to find out that you not only listened to them…you actually learned a thing or two as well!  (I found this cute heart notebook in the Etsy store FavouriteNotebook.) 

A favorite piece of advice my father once told me was…“Remember, romance doesn’t start in the bedroom!”  Wise man that dad of mine!

Valentine Gifts Just For Fun!

Valentine’s Day also seems like the perfect time to put a little creative spin on our gift giving–letting those we care about know that although day to day life requires us to be responsible adults most of the time…we can always enjoy a little frivolous fun sometimes too!

Valentine Gifts From The Heart!

♥ One of my very most favorite Valentine gifts ever, was when my cute hubby bought us aprons and a night cooking class at a local kitchen store.  Seriously, so much fun!  (It was fun to stock up on a few new, much needed kitchen accessories after the cooking class too.)

♥ “642 Things About You” (That I Love) is a fun, quirky love journal for you and your loved one to fill out together or individually as the mood hits…it’s full of random questions (precisely 642) that will have you laughing…and reflecting on why you love that person so much.  (Here’s a couple of sample questions: “What you said that made me laugh when I first took you home to meet my parents.” / “If our relationship had a mascot, what would it be?”)  So many fun ideas–if for no other reason than to have a good laugh together–this is a great Valentine gift from the heart!  

 ♥  I learned from my sweet mom that no gift is ever complete if it isn’t accompanied by a heartfelt note–long after the gift is forgotten, the thoughtful expressions of love in a note live on in our hearts! 

♥  We’re all trying to stick to our New Year’s diets, (well, sort of) but any gift that includes miniature Valentine candies is a fun gift to receive, especially when it’s given with a cute heart tray or container!    

Whatever you do for those you love for Valentine’s Day, it will be perfect as long as you include lots of…..

Valentine's Day Gifts from the Heart!

I wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day!  I hope it’s filled with some of the people and things you love the most!

 I would love it if you’d share a fun personalized gift from the heart that you’ve given to your special loved ones.

–Mary 

Hello 2017! Let’s Try A Little Harder To Be A Little Better!

Hello 2017!

It was such a fun holiday season…but as a new year gets underway, I’ll admit I’m dragging a bit.  One lazy morning before we had to head back to work, I asked my hubby what he was looking forward to most in the upcoming year…as pragmatic as always, he simply said, Just another great 365 days, if I’m lucky!”  Then he turned and looked at me with that knowing look that says, “I know you hate New Year’s resolutions, so let’s see you answer this one!”  Now, I’m not usually quick with a witty come back, but this time I think I genuinely surprised him with my answer…..“I’m just going to try a little harder to be a little better!” Just try a little harder to be a little better!

Let’s Try A Little Harder To Be A Little Better!

While making New Year’s resolutions seems to take on the notion that big changes need to be made in your life…trying a little harder to be a little better seems very doable!  Here’s a few things I’m going to try a little harder at being a little better at:

I’m going to try a little harder to be a little better at being more healthy!  A healthy focus shouldn’t solely be on weight loss.  I once heard the statement that we should exercise like a diabetic heart patient with a stroke so that you never actually become one!  While this may sound a bit extreme, taking good care of our physical health should always be a priority.  Starting the year off with an exam from our physician will help determine our present state of well-being and where we can improve.  Doing this doesn’t guarantee a long life, but working a little harder to be better at exercising daily and eating more healthy will certainly make for a more active, enjoyable one.  My son, who is a dentist, would also add to floss and brush your teeth regularly too.  Dental problems are awful.

Exercising cartoon.

“Someone’s health can often be judged by what they take two at a time…..stairs or pills!”  Joan Walsh      

I’m going to try a little harder to be a little better at being more content!  Life can’t always be a party. Darn!  We need to learn to appreciate the small things and be present in the moment; find contentment in our daily routines.  As Dave Dero wrote in his article,  Advice From Some Old People“We don’t get to stay on this crazy/wonderful planet forever, and the greatest pleasures can often be found in the most mundane of activities.  Instead of sending a text, pick up the phone and call someone–or better yet, go visit them and have a conversation about nothing in particular.  Those are the moments to hold onto!”   

"Live in the Moment!" quote.

My dad always used to tell me,  “Mary, just enjoy life, don’t waste away your days looking for better ones ahead!”     

I’m going to try a little harder to be a little better at being more loving!  We’ve all heard a lot of good advice on this topic.  There’s just no better feeling in the world than knowing that you truly mean something to someone else.  Let’s be unafraid to express and show our love for others!  Let’s plan things to celebrate love!  Let’s make the most of the time we have with loved ones!Funny love quote.

I came across a fun idea for some neat date nights here.

Date Night Jar

Creating a Date Night Jar helps keep the romance alive–especially when you haven’t made other plans!

♦ I’m going to try a little harder to be a little better at giving my best effort!  There will always be demands on our time.  Our dream jobs aren’t always a dream every day, family and friends require a certain amount of commitment to help keep the relationships strong–in short, life can get overwhelming.  Let’s all remember to take a deep breath when needed, and simply vow to not make excuses and do the best we can in every situation.  Ultimately, I think when we put our best foot forward, so to speak, we are rewarded by others acting in kind…it’s a chain reaction of good!  No matter what though, it’s just a great feeling when we know we are giving our best under the the various circumstances we encounter!

Determination quote.

♦ What I really want to try a little harder to be a little better at this year is enjoying more adventures, connecting with more people who have good energy and learning a few new things that help me grow.  We all have that list of things we want to try someday…..new experiences we’d like to have, perhaps a talent we’d like to develop more–whatever it is, let’s pick one or two, make a plan and go for it!  I don’t want to wake up one day and be sad that I didn’t try some of the things I’ve dreamed about doing.  My husband and I are taking on something we’ve dreamed about for a few years now–I can’t wait to share more about it in the near future!

Curly Girl card.

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope yours is off to a great start! 

Inspire us!  Share some of your goals and plans for the coming year.

–Mary