Hello February! 5 Ways To Have A Lovable Month!

Hello February

I don’t know about you, but with all the snowy weather and gray skies of January, I welcome February with open arms!  At the very least, planning some fun Valentine activities has the potential for sparking a festive spirit of love this month!

5 Ways To Have A Lovable Month!

1.  Set the mood!

Valentine's Day decorations.

While we don’t often decorate for other holidays like we do for Christmas, a few fun love reminders scattered around the house can’t help but set the mood for a more loving month!  I got these letters from Pier 1 Imports and glued them on a glittered background before putting them in an old frame I dug out of storage!

2.  Make plans!

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(#Plan journal via A Beautiful Mess)

The notion that we have to plan for love doesn’t often fit our romantic fantasies…but planning for a really important aspect of our lives, when we’re busy with so many other things, is simply a reality for most of us if we want to keep those love vibes going strong!  Penciling in a fun breakfast date or an hour at the bowling alley after work–or any other activity that creates a break from our usual routine and helps us focus on our loved ones for a while, is definitely worth the effort!

3.  Get inspired!

Hallmark movie, "TheWishList!"

(via Hallmark channel’s “The Wish List” with Jennifer Esposito and David Sutcliffe)   

Sometimes we just have to find some inspiration to help reignite those feelings we had when we first fell in love!  Perhaps watching a “sappy” love story or reading a good book together, even attending a fun marriage workshop, will help remind us of those quirky things we love most about our spouses!  I also think it’s fun to ask friends and family members what they do to get their romantic cupid on!

4.  Show everyday love!

Valentine decor

As much as we might love the grand overtures of romance on occasion, it’s often the little day to day acts of love that seem to have the biggest impact in our lives!  Being on the giving and receiving end of a loving smile, a warm hug, a sincere compliment, a heartfelt, handwritten note, kind encouragement, or thoughtful service will not only help us make showing love a daily habit, but we will likely find ourselves looking forward to sharing love more and more each day!

5.  Be good to yourself!

Be good to yourself!

(via Manicure Station)

It goes without saying, that as women, we often take care of others needs before our own–but doing a few little things for ourselves is a sure way to guarantee that we’ll be better prepared to approach our daily responsibilities with more love!

Perhaps Mark Twain had the best insight on love…

Mark Twain quote on love.

I hope everyone has a fabulous February and that Valentine’s Day is just one of many wonderful days this month for you! 

What kinds of things do you do to celebrate Valentine’s Day and those you love?

–Mary 

Healthy, Wealthy And Wise! Calories, Cash And Celebrating A New Year!

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise!  Calories, Cash And Celebrating A New Year!

I hope everyone enjoyed some fun family time, yummy food, and neat gifts during this special holidays season.  In anticipating the arrival of a new year, I thought I’d share a few things that are on my mind for this December “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise” journal entry.

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise! www.mytributejournal.com

Having realistic expectations about your daily challenges is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life!   Marilu Henner, actress

Being healthy. www.mytributejournal.comIt seems to go without saying, that a common New Year’s goal for almost everyone is to live healthier.  For me, this includes taking a common sense approach; voodoo diets or quick-fix tactics just don’t work.  I have found that it seems to work best if I try and incorporate a few key core strategies that ultimately become a part of my overall lifestyle.  In my studies about nutrition over the years, one factor is always proven true…calories count!

Put it in simple terms, calories are defined as units of energy supplied by food we eat.  In order to maintain a healthy body weight, the calories consumed from food must be balanced by calories used in normal bodily functions, daily activities and exercise.

As I researched information to help me be more resourceful in losing a few pounds recently, I came across this video by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that effectively outlines how finding a good life balance by counting calories, eating healthy and exercising doesn’t need to be too complicated…a reminder we all need once in awhile.

Gaining wealth. www.mytributejournal.comNo doubt, after holiday expenses, most of us are feeling a little cash crunch as we pay off our bills and start to think of financial goals for the new year ahead.

Although my husband and I both work hard and try to budget sensibly, if we ever do find ourselves wanting to add a substantial amount to our savings plan or help our children with unexpected expenses they might have, we’ll often revert back to the cash system we used to help us with our finances when we were younger.  In the card-swiping culture we live in today, it’s a good way to really see where your money goes and reign in unnecessary expenses.

money

After establishing a written budget, make and use cash envelopes.  In addition to making an envelope for specific monthly mortgage and utility bills, make ones for categories like: groceries, drug, home improvement, entertainment…etc.  There’s nothing quite like the visual reminder of spending cash instead of plastic to keep your spending under control.  I think it’s fun once in awhile to see if you’re up to the challenge of using cash for most of your expenses.

Using wisdom. www.mytibutejournal.comI love celebrating the arrival of a fresh new year and the anticipation of what might be ahead in the upcoming year, but as stated in this previous journal entry, making new year’s resolutions tends to make me a little grumpy!  But recently, I heard about a smart way to outline goals so that they’re a lot more doable and a little less daunting.

Often, it is simply a matter of having a more focused mindset as to how we’d like to accomplish the goals we have set for ourselves, then breaking them down into smaller increments so we can make wise choices to achieve them.

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Whether you’re one to make New Year’s resolution lists or not, I think it seems like a good idea to try and be better at celebrating the imperfectly, perfect things about ourselves!  Let’s also try and find a little bit of magic in each day too!

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Here’s to being “gloriously ourselves” in 2016!!!

I’d love to hear about a goal you accomplished this past year? 

(Look for fun, new “Balanced Lifestyle” journal entries coming in 2016!)

–Mary 

A Nice, Normal Family?!

A Nice, Normal Family?!

Amid all the lights and decorations, good food and gifts, I think it goes without saying, that perhaps one of the main reasons we look forward to this Christmas time of year is the anticipation of getting together with family and loved ones!

Norman Rockwell Christmas!

Although they could be a bit hectic at times, I look back on past holiday seasons when I was growing up with fond memories.  That doesn’t mean there weren’t often reminders from my parents as I rough housed and teased that Santa was watching and checking who was naughty or nice!   Like my children are sure to recall, I remember with a bit of irony now, the determined look on my mother’s face whenever company came to visit that gave a wordless warning that I didn’t dare not heed; it’s a bit of sage advice that I’m certain has been shared over and over again in many family circles with equal parts sarcasm and sincerity!

A Nice, Normal Family!

“Remember, as far as anyone knows, we are a nice, normal family!”

Despite any idiosyncrasies and shortcomings, our families always seem to accept us best for who we really are…but could we do better at doing more for those we love the most?  It would seem that there is no better time than during the season that celebrates life, love and families, to try and do a few things that bring us all closer together!  Here are some traditions I’ve done with my own family over the years, as well as some activities I have heard of others doing that help them keep their family bonds strong, not only at Christmas time, but all year long!

  • Gather around the dinner table!

There’s just nothing like a great meal and lively conversation around the dinner table that helps pull a family together more!

Norman Rockwell's Christmas!

With our busy schedules now days, gathering around the dinner table seems much less likely than when I was growing up, but I found that having my kids help decide on the menu, as well as taking turns with meal preparation, made the possibility of getting together for dinner a more realistic goal.  We loved having breakfast for dinner too.  (You’ll find the recipe for Ebleskivers, one of our favorite meals here.)    

  • Celebrate the season!

A “bah, hum bug” attitude just doesn’t cut it if you want to keep family ties strong!  While it may require some creative coordination and a little extra planning, there is nothing quite like getting together with our families to celebrate age-old traditions, as well as trying a few new activities to build close family relationships!

Norman Rockwell Christmas!

From all the beautiful holiday decorations and tree ornaments, to the delicious smells of familiar recipes baking in the kitchen, we all have those cherished sentiments for family Christmas traditions.  (I have shared a few of my favorite traditions here.)  However, I think you’ll all agree that it is those people in our lives who love us unconditionally that truly make Christmas such a wonderful time of year, especially that person for which we celebrate this most blessed season!

  • Unite in thoughtful giving and selfless service! 

It goes without saying that giving thoughtful gifts, including selfless acts of service, proves to unite families in special ways that are sure to strengthen family bonds like little else seems to do.

Thoughtful Giving at Christmas!

A client of my husband’s collaborates with a charitable organization at Christmas time so his family can truly focus on giving to others by helping build homes or schools in foreign countries for those in need.  My sisters-in-law started a neat Christmas party years ago where we give a homemade gift to the person whose name we draw that year.  The time and energy spent on creating a thoughtful gift for anybody can’t help but result in forming special bonds with that person!    

Family Christmas Traditions: Giving Manger Gift Set

A new way to focus on service this Christmas season that I’m giving to some family members and friends is “The Giving Manger”  gift set.  These unique sets come with an endearing story book that explains the tradition of giving and hopes to inspire selfless acts of service that results in pieces of straw being placed in the little wooden manger throughout the month of December, ending with baby Jesus being placed in the in the manger on Christmas morning.  

  • Mostly…have fun and enjoy being together!

There is just nothing better than the anticipation of family, friends and loved ones returning home for the holidays!

Welcoming Christmas!

There’s no doubt about it, despite the eclectic dynamics, funny antics, and yes, even drama on occasion, it really is nice to have the people in our lives that make up our families–with no one else are we casually able to be ourselves!  (My mom would also add that being related doesn’t excuse us from not making an effort to put forth our best manners!) 

A Norman Rockwell Christmas!

For me, a quote from a favorite movie, Dan In Real Life, just might sum it up best…“There’s a certain rightness in our wrongness!”

I hope everyone has the best Christmas season and that you are lucky enough to be able to spend much of it with your family and loved ones!

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I won’t have a couple of my kids here for Christmas, but that doesn’t mean we still won’t enjoy great conversations and all the crazy, good things we love about each other!

What fun family traditions do you look forward to celebrating every year?  

–Mary