Lessons Learned!

Lessons Learned!

As I get another year older…I’m so grateful that my parents were such good examples of teaching me how to love life in all its various stages.

Life Lessons Learned! Embrace the current season of your life quote.

We’ve all heard the saying, “with age comes wisdom” –however, I suppose that we have to be willing to learn in order to gain that wisdom!

Being An Avid Learner!

Celebrating another birthday seems like as good a time as any to reflect on a few of the life lessons I’ve learned over the years…although I hope to be an avid learner in the school of life, so to speak, for many years to come!

Small daily habits are important.   As a nurse, I often see people who don’t feel well because they haven’t taken very good care of themselves.  Sure, we all get sick once in a while, but if there is one life lesson I’ve learned that seems to compromise the outcome of other great lessons to be learned in this life, it’s taking our health for granted.  It’s never too late to make it a daily habit to look forward to each new day, pray, exercise, eat fresh food, brush our teeth and be more aware of all the little things that can help inspire us to live better!Life Lessons Learned. Aristotle quote.Be stronger than yesterday.  My parents grew up in what has been coined as “the greatest generation”having persevered during the tumultuous times marked by the historic economic downfall of the stock market in the 1930’s, followed by World War II.  At every turn in their lives, they taught me that personal duty, integrity and faith should be the defining characteristics in how I face challenges in my life.  My mom always had a quiet dignity about her, but she was fierce in teaching her children that every day was a good day to be stronger and make a difference!


Change is inevitable.  When we hear this cliché, it seems to imply something bad…but if there’s one life lesson that is a persistent teacher, it’s that life is change!  Change can become one of our greatest life lessons and allows for the most personal growth if we allow ourselves the permission to step outside our comfort zone and learn from it.  As I’ve embraced change and impermanence in my life, surprisingly I have found more inner peace and contentment.  In fact, on those occasions when it seems my life has hit a plateau, so to speak, whether it’s in my relationships, my job, my health…I try to change things up a bit to keep things fresh and even a little unpredictable.

Life Lessons Learned! Change is inevitable.

• Deliberately choose the people you spend the most time with.  If we spend time with people who bring out our best personality traits, but at the same time challenge our fears and insecurities, chances are we’ll become the best version of ourselves.  Sometimes people come into our lives at a crucial time because something in us wants to learn–and they too want to learn from us…and a lovely friendship is formed.  I’m so grateful for all the incredible people in my life who love me unconditionally and teach me wonderful life lessons through their examples so that I can continue to cultivate my true potential!

Life Lessons Learned! Surround ourself with good people!

• Trust your heart.  I have found that if we stay true to ourselves, our hearts will never guide us wrong.  Throughout my life, I’ve often felt the pull between what other people think I should do (or what the accepted standard is) and what my heart discreetly and sincerely tries to tell me is right.  The world likes to bombard us with big promises, glorified acclamations and even false adulation, resulting in our egos getting in the way of what we know, deep down, is in our best interest.  Call it intuition or a small inner voice, it is essential for us to take a step back from our busy lives once in awhile, so we can honor our true feelings and trust that our hearts will help us make the decisions that will bring us genuine and lasting happiness.  Like anything else, this takes time and practice, but the reward for doing so will ultimately be what defines our personal legacy!

Life Lesson Learned! Trust your heart.

And finally, a few other important lessons I’m always trying to learn better…

Life Lessons Learned!

I’d love to know what life lesson or advice has helped you most in your life? 


My Funny Valentine!

My Funny Valentine!

I think we’ve all had those moments when we get lost in a romantic best seller or a sweet love story that unfolds in the latest “chic flick” …you know, the ones, where responsibilities are thrown to the wind, and spontaneous adventures, beautiful flowers and whispered sweet nothings abound!  Then all too quickly, reality comes back into focus and we return to our daily routines where nothing it seems, is ever very glamorous and the sometimes quirky, less amorous ways that our partners show they love us don’t quite measure up to our romantic expectations.  That being said…I’ve decided that the month dedicated to celebrating love seemed like a good time for being more appreciative of the “real” romance and often unconventional ways of my loving husband…my fun and funny Valentine!

My Funny Valentine!

“Real love is when reality is better than your dreams!”  Tribute Journal 

The Fun Love Of My Funny Valentine!

♥ My funny Valentine does housework! 

Forget rose petals scattered all over our bed or a love note written on a steamy mirror…more often than not, one of the ways my husband shows me he loves me is by cranking up his favorite country music and helping me make our house a clean and comfortable home…and as an added bonus, he makes it all so darn much fun.  In my opinion, there’s nothing quite so wonderful (and sexy) as a man who shares the household chores!  It’s the kind and helpful gestures of our partners that truly shows their sincere devotion and appreciation of the relationships we share with them!

My Funny Valentine!

“The key to a happy marriage…is to work hard to make it happen!”  Kelly Hoppen

♥ My funny Valentine is my biggest cheerleader!  (Minus the pom poms.)

My husband believes in me!  He is my biggest cheerleader, not in a rah-rah, showy fashion where he lavishes me with all the desires of my heart, but in the ways of a man who can put his ego in check and selflessly offer quiet support that tells me he has my back and believes that I can accomplish anything I set my mind on doing.  When I’m busy fulfilling an obligation or working on a project, he’s happy to help out by working his magic with his power tools, running errands or simply bringing me a cold diet coke or a quick bite to eat.  During those times when I overcommit and spread myself a bit to thin, so to speak, this dear man has learned to lovingly offer pep talks and humor to rally my spirits and help me set realistic boundaries for my time and energy.  That, my friends, is true love!

My Funny Valentine!

“Motivate and support your partner.  You are both a work in progress…so grow and build together.”   LiveLifeHappy.com

♥ My funny Valentine doesn’t text!

Yes, my husband has a cell phone with all the bells and whistles, and believe me he couldn’t live without it!  With a career as a financial consultant, he is constantly getting updates on the stock market and the state of the economy so he can be informed and call his clients when necessary…but if I need to get in touch with him, my texts usually just go the way of any other data debris sent out into the universe!  My “old-school” sweetheart recently told me that texting seemed like such a sad alternative to actually hearing my voice and having a real conversation.  (Awww!)  I have to admit, you can cover a lot more ground in a short phone call–and a few sweet nothings can be shared, as well!  Our high-tech habits may not always be the best choice when it comes to building our relationships!

My Funny Valentine!“One of the most important things about communication in marriage…is hearing what isn’t being said!”  Peter Drucker

♥ My funny Valentine wears rose-colored glasses!

It’s easy to become disenchanted with our partners as the evolution of marriage takes place…what once seemed like effortless passion is replaced with the reality of jobs, bills and kids.  Some things your spouse does that once seemed so charming can become an irritating annoyance…am I right?  Well, lucky for me, my husband dedicated himself long ago to this wild and crazy journey we embarked on, by always seeing the positive aspects of being together and embracing the changes that have taken place over time in our marriage.  I think we’ve both learned through the years, that love is a special gift that grows only when we give it to one another unconditionally!  It’s wonderful to have someone by our sides who looks at us and truly believes that we have gotten better as time goes on!  John Lubbock quote.In all likelihood, I probably won’t be sitting down to a romantic, candlelit dinner with soft music playing in the background come Valentine’s Day, but it’s sure to be a fun and festive celebration with my funny Valentine, all the same!

My Funny Valentine!

“My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine, you make me smile with all my heart…!”  from the lyrics to My Funny Valentine by Lorenz Hart

Also…since we’ll be celebrating another year of “wedded bliss” next week, I just wanted to give a shout out to this guy and thank him for the delightful life we have together!

The New York City Marathon! www.mytributejournal.com

“It’s not necessarily being in love that makes me so darn happy, it is the neat person that I’m in love with that does!”  Tribute Journal

(You can read more about our life together in a “real” marriage here.)

What are some fun and creative things you do to celebrate those you love?

–Much love, Mary

The Cookbook Challenge! Comfort Food!

The Cookbook Challenge!

The Cookbook Challenge!  Comfort Food!

The winter months always seem to have us yearning for all the yummy comfort foods that help make us feel warm and cozy as we come in from the cold, snowy weather…unfortunately, those same recipes don’t often abide with healthy eating goals we set for the new year!

The Cookbook Challenge!

This newest cookbook challenge comes from a beautifully illustrated cookbook published by Williams-Sonoma, titled Comfort Food, written in collaboration with the award-winning cookbook author, Rick Rodgers.  (We discovered it one night while browsing our local Williams-Sonoma store in search of some gifts for my husband’s secretaries.)  While some of the mouth-watering recipes featured in this cookbook are indeed made with calorie-rich ingredients, for that occasional splurge or fancy dinner party, there are plenty of fresh and light options that are sure to cure your homemade, comfort food cravings!

"Comfort Food" cookbook.

Mr. Rodgers tells some entertaining personal stories throughout the cookbook and offers helpful tips for making seasonal variations to many of the recipes shared; and just like the introduction page promises, we’ve found this cookbook to be a favorite “go-to” for making tasty, comfort food any time of the year!

Ramen noodle food trucks and restaurants have become a big trend lately.  My husband and I find that it’s a great way to get a quick bite to eat that’s fairly healthy, as well as flavorful and satisfying, on a chilly evening after work.  Recently, we made a version of this popular dish from a recipe in the Comfort Food cookbook.

Beef and Broccoli Ramen Chow (Serves 4)

Slice a 12 oz. flank steak into 1/4 inch thick pieces and about 2 inches long.

In a large bowl, whisk together: 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp. Chinese rice wine, 2 tsp. cornstarch, 1 tsp. dark sesame oil and 2 tsp. brown sugar.

Add flank steak to mixture and toss well.  Let stand for about 15 minutes.

Soak an 8 oz. pkg. of dried brown rice noodles in hot tap water for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are almost tender.  Then drain and rinse them with cold water and toss them gently with 1 tsp. dark sesame oil.

Rice noodles.

(I used this brand of noodles that I found at Target.)

For the sauce: in a small bowl mix: 2 tbsp. oyster sauce, 1 tbsp. black bean sauce, 1 tbsp. water, and 1 tbsp. Chinese rice wine.

Beef and broccoli ramen.

Heat wok over medium heat, then add 1 tbsp. peanut oil, swirl to coat bottom and sides of wok.  Add marinated steak mixture and cook until meat is slightly browned–about one minute.  Add 2 cloves minced garlic (or to your taste preference) and 2 tsp. fresh minced ginger.  Stir with steak and cook for another minute until steak isn’t pink.  You don’t want to over-cook meat. 

Transfer the meat mixture to a platter.  Add another 1 tbsp. peanut oil to your wok to brown 1 small chopped yellow onion.  Add 1 cup small broccoli  florets (I added more) and stir fry until it’s tender but crisp-about a minute.  Add rice noodles and steak mixture and keep stirring until noodles are hot.  Continue stirring as you add sauce mixture and coat all ingredients well.

The Cookbook Challenge! Comfort Food!

 Serve hot in a deep bowl for a fun, easy meal!

My beef and broccoli ramen chow doesn’t look as posh and fancy as the one pictured in the Comfort Food cookbook, but it’s sure yummy!  One of the things I really like about this cookbook is that the ingredients are listed in a separate column which makes it easy for writing your grocery list!  There’s also instructions for recipe variations, such as adding shrimp instead of beef, or making a vegetarian adaptation.

What are some comfort foods you’re enjoying during the cold months of winter?

–Happy eating!  Mary