Bring On Spring!

Bring On Spring!

While I usually love living where I’m lucky enough to experience all four seasons…after what has seemed like an exceptionally long, cold, dreary winter–I’m more than ready to have Mother Nature…

I love the special excitement and the fresh perspective that a new season brings to my little corner of the world–so go ahead spring and…

Bring on all things floral…

It might still be a little too cool to plant flowers in our yards where I live, but we can certainly bring on spring and all things florals in so many other ways.

A vase of colorful, fresh flowers is always a good way to bring a happy spring mood inside—even if it is still cold and snowy outside!

Even if there’s still a little nip in the air, by March I’m ready to pull out a few floral tops.  I found this cute Lucky Brand top at Dillard’s!

Pretty floral pillows set the mood for spring and these flowers don’t mind the chilly spring evenings.  I love this one from Pottery Barn.

Help ease your friends out of winter hibernation by sending a fun, floral note, or better yet—you could host a “Bring on Spring” luncheon!

Bring on spring cleaning… 

No word seems more synonymous with spring than cleaning!  And while you may not want to tackle the whole Marie Kondo way of “tidying up”

…I think we can all agree that there’s nothing better than opening up the windows, letting in some fresh air and getting rid of some of the winter grime and clutter!

There are always new lists of spring cleaning shortcuts that debut in the housekeeping magazines each year…but here’s a few tried and true tips that my grandma and mom taught me that I love:

Distilled vinegar, borax or baking soda, alcohol and ammonia were the mainstays of my mom’s cleaning arsenal.  By being resourceful, you can save a lot of money by making your own inexpensive “natural” cleaning supplies.

Homemade Window Cleaner: 2 cups warm water, 2 cups rubbing alcohol and 1/2 cup ammonia mixed in a 32 oz. spray bottle.  Clean with a lint-free microfiber towel.

Distilled vinegar is a mild, natural acid and my personal go-to for cleaning just about everything from toilets and tub soap scum to rust stains and wax build-up.  I also like to pour in a cup or two in my washing machine and run it through a rinse cycle to freshen it up–this works for your dishwasher too.  

Baking soda is a soft abrasive and great for scouring tough stains…and it’s a natural deodorizer too.  My grandma and mom use to cut lemon or orange slices and then sprinkle them with baking soda to scrub anything from sinks and tubs to counter tops.  The citrus and baking soda work together for a sparkling shine everywhere.  The good thing about doing this is you just throw the slices away after using, so no wet sponges left to sit and get musty with your other cleaning supplies. 

Bring on the great outdoors…  

There’s just something about getting outside after a long, cold winter that strengthens both body and soul!  Getting out to do yard work or taking a brisk evening walk after work are probably two of the things I look forward to the most come springtime!

 

It’s nice to be able to put away the heavy parka’s worn during the winter months and throw on a light-weight, spring jacket as you head outside.

I recently discovered the Barbour line of outdoor wear–their jackets are well-made and come in so many great spring colors!  

I’m a huge advocate of the saying, “Since all great journeys start with a single step…you should probably wear a cute pair of shoes.”  What is it about putting on a bright pair of workout/walking shoes that makes you feel a little giddy!

I am such a fan of Asics athletic shoes…and their new neon line takes me back to the good times of my glory days in high school!

Check here for spring gardening tips to help you get a head start on your spring plant and lawn care.

Bring on the fresh eats…

After enjoying all the warm casseroles and comfort foods we love during the winter months, it’s nice to finally have a better variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from come spring!  In an attempt to make healthy eating a little more fun, my husband and I purchased a vegetable spiralizer tool to jazz up our salads.  Here’s an easy recipe we put together the other night that was really good!

Parmesan Zucchini Carrot Salad

Spiralize a medium zucchini and carrot

Add 1/2 cup chopped purple cabbage

Stir in 1 shredded baked chicken breast

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and slivered almonds

Toss above ingredients w/ Newman’s Own Honey Mustard Dressing

Top with coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

(You can buy pre-made spiral veggies too.) 

And how about this fun spring/Easter twist on chocolate dipped strawberries!  You just add a drop or two of orange food coloring to melted white chocolate to make them look like carrots.  Love this so much!

I have seen where they put these dipped strawberries in a cup of crushed Oreo’s to represent carrots growing in dirt.  So creative!

More fresh eats and healthy snack suggestions here.

As I write this, another snow storm is in the forecast…making me more ready than ever to bring on all things spring!!

My husband told me that we might see the dawning of a new season this year… “Sprinter” -winter in spring!  Let’s pray he’s wrong!

What do you look forward to most when spring finally decides to make its debut?

All the best spring wishes to you!  ♥ Mary

The Best Advice…For A Happy New Year!

The Best Advice…For A Happy New Year!

A brand new year seems like the perfect time for the second edition of my “Best Advice” series that was so well received when I posted the first one clear back in August of last year.  Whether you’re one to make New Year resolutions or not, (you can read why I’m not here!) perhaps the sage advice shared here by some more of my lovely friends, wise mentors and gracious family members will be the perfect catalyst that helps you find your passion and embrace the opportunities you’re given so that 2019 proves to be the best year of your life!  At the very least, let’s all vow to do something we’ve always wanted to do but never took the time to do it until now!

A New Year is 365 days of opportunity!

Advice To Help Kick Off The New Year!

Anticipating the beginning of a new year is sure to ignite the age-old debate of “resolutions vs. goals”!  Aren’t they really one in the same, you ask?  Well, I define a resolution as a firm decision to do or not do something–and therein lies the dilemma for me…too often people vow to completely change a behavior on the first day of a new year like some magic motivational switch is flipped at 12:01 on January 1st.  Resolutions seem to be indicative of an “all or nothing” approach; failure seems guaranteed.  Whereas, I see goals as less ridged and more meaningful intentions, where the commitment and effort required is more realistic, resulting in the improvement of a person’s overall lifestyle with lasting, long-term effects, despite some inevitable hurdles and setbacks.

Resolutions vs. Goals.

“Dream big.  Start small.  Act now.  Robin Sharma

I like the insight and advice my good friend and long-time neighbor, Alison, gives on the subject of setting goals.  She and her husband are serving a mission for our church in Sacramento, California, where they oversee approximately 180 young missionaries ranging from 18-20 years of age.

I love the New Year as a time to refocus on new goals and ways to live my best life.  I have come to appreciate the importance of goals even more since we have been serving our mission.  I’ve seen how those young people we work with who make a habit of setting goals and understanding that they truly help them progress in life, are not only the most productive, but usually the happiest, as well.  Goals that make us stretch, even a little bit, help us become better versions of ourselves.  A favorite piece of advice I offer our ever evolving group of missionaries is:

“We are striving for progression not perfection.”

(Scott and Alison Hymas with missionaries in Sacramento, California)

I love my career as a NICU nurse, and I work with some incredible neonatologists who are not only wise in the medical care they offer the precious preemies on our unit, they are very intuitive about life in general, which makes sense when you think about it, since they often see first hand how truly fragile life can be!  On one occasion, I commented to one of these physician’s, Dr. Shannon Jenkins, how his ability to really listen to the concerns of anxious parents seemed to calm their anxieties and allow the hospital personnel to do their job more effectively.  His reply renewed my desire to make sure my patients (or in this case, the parents of my patients) are a strategic part of the care plan.  Dr. Jenkins said, “Learning to listen is the first step in formulating the best care plan for each patient beyond their immediate medical needs.  As knowledgeable as we’d like to think we are as doctor’s, you don’t advance in your career if you do all the talking!”  He went on to elaborate that by listening, he learned how to better involve the families so that they felt like they had viable roles in the care of their sick little ones, despite the fact that touch and other stimuli often has to be restricted.

“One of the sincerest forms of respect…is actually listening to what another person has to say.”  Bryant McGill

As a nurse I also have the privilege of mentoring many student nurses as they work through their rotations in the various areas of the hospital.  It’s wonderful to see my profession through fresh, eager eyes on occasion–and truth be told, I’m often the one who learns as much, if not more, from these future candidates of an amazing career path.  One such opportunity came last year when I worked with Lauren, a darling 2nd year student who proved to be wise beyond her years in her innate ability to care for our little patients with ease, while still paying attention to all the meticulous little details that are so important to maintain in a NICU unit.  Lauren recently graduated and received her hard sought Registered Nurse status, so of course, I had to ask her to share her best advice for surviving a rigorous nursing program and life in general.

Here’s Lauren’s 3 key points on what helps her live a happier life:

1.  I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I know I make many mistakes, most of them unintentionally, but I also know I don’t want to be defined by those mistakes.  I truly believe that if we can look for the best qualities in others, it will not only help us to be less critical, it will allow others to overcome their weaknesses and learn from their mistakes.

2.  I try to live by the quote in the book, “Girl Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis, (which I highly recommend) that says, “If you are unhappy, that’s on you.”  It’s such a good reminder that we should always take charge of our lives; what defines who we are and how we want to live!       

3.  We live in a world of instant gratification, where seemingly little effort is required to get ahead, but there’s just something to be said for putting in the hard work.  It sounds cliché, but the early mornings and long nights worked as you devote your life to reaching your goals really do build a special strength in character.  I always strive to have at least one aspiration, whether it be physical, mental or spiritual, that I work hard for every day, because when I accomplish it, there’s truly no better feeling…and it’s great incentive to achieve even more!  

With this great outlook, I’d say Lauren has a bright future ahead!

(Lauren Huff, 2018 Nursing Graduation at Weber State University) 

One of my favorite television news contributors is Ed Henry, Chief National Correspondent on the Fox News Station.  He seems to take pride in the delivery of news information without making it biased to his own personal views.  I recently became even more enamored with him when I read about an interview he did once where he was the one being questioned, and his wise response to being asked about how the general public could be better news consumers so they could make more informed decisions, politically and otherwise, came without hesitation.  He said,  “I’ve always felt that if people were even 10% more attentive to others and the world around them than they currently are, we’d be a much happier population.”  My interpretation of this sage advice is that if we are willing to take time to look outside ourselves more and serve one another to the best of our ability, we’d be able to better offer some of the basic kind gestures that are so necessary for all of us to really thrive in this life!

Ed Henry, Chief News Correspondent for Fox New

(Ed Henry via Fox News Channel)

Perhaps some of the best advice to heed for those of us who are hibernating to a certain degree during the wintry month of January, is to take advantage of this time to look around and truly ponder the beauty of this glorious world we live in…even when it’s adorned in snow drifts!

Snow drifts in Utah.

“Like the whole earth, we must rest and be quiet.”    Isaiah

And lastly, several years ago when I was going through some of my mom’s files, I came across an old newspaper clipping she had saved written by the late renown columnist, Ann Landers.  I love the witty way Ms. Lander’s had of putting common sense ideas into clever quips that always leave you nodding in agreement as you read them, while at the same time vowing to somehow implement every last tidbit of wisdom into your daily habits.  I still have the original article folded in the back of my personal journal so I can pull it out and reread it on occasion when I’m at odds with myself.  I’ve made a modified version of it for you to download and make a copy for when you’re feeling the need for a little positive reboot in your life!

Advice For A New Year by Ann Landers

Make a copy HERE.

Please share any sage advice that helped you when you needed it most in your life!    

Best wishes to you all for a blessed and happy new year!

–Mary

The Best Advice…A Compilation!

The Best Advice…A Compilation!

I’m always drawn to people who seem content in the ordinary and have a deep appreciation for life’s basic experiences; they find sincere pleasure in enjoying their day to day routines; they find satisfaction in simple friendships, creating something, helping those in need, reading a good book, a job well done, chuckling at the absurdities of life…..the list is endless.  One of the things I find exceptional about these wonderful people is their willingness to be open to advice that will help them know what they are capable of accomplishing so they can be successful in life.  We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, that’s just the nature of our lives, but I believe it is inherent in all of us to seek the best advice that will help us live our best lives!

The best advice...A Compilation!

“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge!”  Bertrand Russell

The Best Advice From Some Of The Best People I Know!

I guess it’s only fitting that I start with some advice that my cute hubby, who is a financial consultant by profession, finds particularly enlightening–I think he likes the play on words!

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My husband is also an avid reader and “old school” to the extent that he has absolutely no Social Media inclinations whatsoever, thus this sage advice seems to be his life’s mantra!
The Best Advice...A Compilation!I have a dear nurse friend, Carol, who I worked with for many years until her retirement last year…she is always so wise and kind–she makes you want to be a better person when you’re around her!  We recently planned a lunch date and I asked her what her secret was for living with such positive energy, without hesitation she replied,

“If you want to be happy…you have to be happy on purpose!”

Bloom where you are planted.

“When you wake up each morning–you can’t wait and see what kind of day you will have.  You have to be the one to decide what kind of day you will have.  THRIVE…in spite of your circumstances!”

Another fun friend, Kellee, who along with her neat husband, has raised four boys.  They often used these wise words to help their sons establish a good foundation for a strong work ethic!

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Along with busy school schedules and other jobs, Kellee’s boys run a lawn care business with their dad.  Many yards in our neighborhood and surrounding areas have benefitted from their expert skills.

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Kellee also tells her boys to be nice to everyone–you never know, she warns, who you may end up working for or who your neighbor will be when you move out and are on your own!  Good advice, Kellee!

When I married my husband, I also got a wonderful extended family in his parents and eight siblings.  Two of his sisters recently shared some advice with me that has helped them keep a happy perspective about life.

Serve others quote.

My sister-in-law, Colette, shared with me that the best advice she got was from her parents, who never really expressed it in words, per se, but rather by their example of never turning down the privilege to serve.  “My parents always accepted the opportunity to serve with valiant hearts.  They were kind, selfless ministers to others their whole lives and wonderful examples of Christ-like love!” 

Wendy is the youngest of my husband’s siblings, and she told me that when she was deep in the trenches of raising her young family and feeling torn between trying to keep her house clean and taking time to play with her kids and enjoy their “kid-ness” (aka–messes) a friend shared some great advice on how to do both and keep her sanity!  “My friend suggested cleaning one room a day.  When it’s done, let it go.  Cleaning house this way was so liberating!  I knew that each week every room was clean under the clutter my kids made.”   

Sidwalk art.

“May my children look back on this day and see a mom who had time to play.  There will be years for cleaning and cooking, but children can grow up quickly while we’re not looking!”   A Mother’s Prayer

The Best Advice...A Compilation!

Even though their kids are grown-up and on their own now, these cute ladies still have a lot of fun and are always young at heart!

I think we all know someone who has an insatiable appetite for discovering all the fun nuances about the world around them.  For me that person is my friend, Marilyn.  So of course, I just had to ask her what her best advice would be…and her answer was delightful!

Live Curious!”  

“Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it has added spice to my life.” 

Marilyn goes on to explain that she was extremely shy as a child and teenager, but her avid sense of curiosity pushed her and led her into situations and places that have brought her a lot of joy and knowledge.  “Not holding back when I was curious about things or people I wanted to understand better has given me so many choice life experiences, new friends and wonderful talents.  Hopefully, unlike the cat, I’ll know when not to be too curious.”

Live Curious! The Millard House by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Marilyn took these pictures as she was peeking through the gate of the Millard House in Pasadena, California.  It’s one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous four-patterned block houses built in the 1920’s.  

No advice post would be complete without the wisdom my father shared often…and with everyone!

“What is almost as important as breathing?”

The Best Advice...A Compilation!

“Getting a good education!”

My dad was a brilliant educator who loved his profession; he truly believed that the key to being able to go out into the world and make a difference was getting a good education!

Following this same train of thought, a wonderful friend and teacher, Catherine, who wants kids to love learning, shared this beautiful insight…

“Kids are candles waiting to be lit, not buckets waiting to be filled.”

My mother’s wise advice was always the perfect mix between trying to inspire our family to do better and yet somehow find contentment along the way!

Faith quote.

“The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most of every day”  Merle M. Jorgensen, my cute mom

And lastly, I’m offering this advice since as a nurse I’m often asked by friends and acquaintances who I’d recommend as a good doctor for their medical care.  Just like you’d expect, there are as many physician personalities as there are patients!

Robin Williams as Patch Adams.

(via “Patch Adams” with Robin Williams)

Some people want their doctor to have the funny, soft-hearted approach of a Patch Adams… 


William Hurt in the movie, "The Doctor".

(via “The Doctor” with William Hurt) 

…while others, my husband included, like a doctor with a straight forward, no fluff approach.

…so my advice is always to find a doctor who you feel is invested in your health and that you are comfortable in communicating your concerns!  Nothing should be compromised when it comes to your health and wellbeing!

(I’ve worked as a Maternity and NICU nurse for many years.  You can read some advice I offer on occasion to new parents and grandparents here.)

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this advice segment.  I’ve been so touched and humbled by the many responses I received on this topic that I’m going to make it a regular series on the journal.  We all benefit when others are willing to share with the universe the advice and wisdom that motivates them to live better–so be prepared to be inspired!

What tidbits of wisdom have helped you on your life’s journey, I know you have some, so please share it with us here!  

–Here’s to living our best lives!  Mary