Posts tagged marriage
Pennies for Love: The Final

Joy and I have had a blast thinking up and sharing some of the ways we share love with the ones we love the most! Pennies for Love's final post is up, and Joy has a simple way to make 2014 full of romance!

"One of my favorite things about the new year is looking forward to all the little annual rituals that we get to enjoy again. A lot of those things involve travel, but as I began to plan, I thought that it would be nice to also include smaller activities that we’d like to do together.

The fact of the matter is that we’re always busy and sometimes we waste away entire weekends, when we could be having more fun if we’d had a little forethought!"

Huge thanks to Joy for her brainchild of Pennies for Love. Joy and I will be bringing in a friend for a new February series! Stay tuned!

Check out all the other Pennies for Love posts!

xoxo, MJ


Bring Joy and Janae: 12 Blogger Christmas

Happy New Year, pals!! It's 2014 - how did that happen? Thank you for all of your reading and applauding through 2013 for this here blog. Because of your support some fabulous changes are happening in 2014, and I can't wait to share a few things I've been keeping on the hush hush. May 2014 be a year of lasting hope and endless possibilities!

On this seventh day of Christmas, I'm BRINGing you JOY. If you have not yet discovered the force that is Janae from Bring Joy, let me convince you.

I wanted to share recipes & helps answer questions about my dietary choice to go vegan. When I first began blogging nearly 5 years ago, the www was a totally different place. Pinterest didn't exist. There was no such thing as a Facebook fan page. Twitter was just in its baby phase. So much has changed, but the reason I began is the reason I continue--to connect with others & to share. 


My blog has evolved over the years (as I hope all blogs do!) to be more than just a blog about being vegan & sharing recipes. I like to share snippets of family life, share how we're striving to be frugal & get out of debt, & discuss issues about relationships & parenting. I keep blogging, honestly, because of my readers. I have some readers who have stuck around since the beginning, & my interactions with them are my fuel to keep going. I love learning from them, & feel honored to have such a thoughtful, smart audience. 
The essence of my blog is sharing, community, with an emphasis on thoughtful, purposeful living. In a few words, I'd like to think I & my readers discuss ways in which to bring more joy to living, particularly as it relates to food, family, & money decisions. 
I don’t know. Except I do. Because I’m a woman & I’ve been guilty as anyone of this. In the past 6 months or so, I’ve been quietly working on changing my mindset. Striving to realize that my value as a woman, as a person, does not have anything to do with the shape of my body, or the size of my jeans. It’s hard to fight against this though, in our culture, where we’re sold this idea that a woman’s power or strength at least in part, is derived from the shape & size of her body.
Image courtesy of Freshly Picked
I just want to continue interacting with my readers in a very mindful, intimate way. I love nothing more than to receive emails & comments from readers that teach me something, or open my eyes in a new way. I feel like blogging is the 21st century version of extreme pen pal-ing. I get to interact on a regular basis from people all over the world, & not just any kind of people--some truly fabulous & wonderful people. 
When you head over to Bring Joy, you will quickly notice how engaged Janae is with her audience. Her smart, relevant, and challenging content stretches the gamut from frugal living to healthy eating to marriage and parenting conversations. And she has an almost magical way of beginning a conversation you want to be sure to join. So many times when I'm reading a post from Bring Joy, I find myself internally nodding and thinking "YES!" as I read her well selected content.
Janae's food photography is pretty awesome as well. Click on over to Bring Joy - and let's make it a habit to do so often in this great new year - 2014!

On the seventh day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Bring Joy.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Minnow + Co.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Design + Life + Kids.

On the third day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Design Stitch Go.

On the second day of Christmas, Pars Caeli gave to me Trouvé Magazine.

And Lulu the Baker !

Pennies for Love: Wonder and Wander Together

It's two weeks until Christmas. Well, less than that now...and the clock is ticking! It feels that way sometimes, doesn't it? Like you have to make every last minute count in order to prepare for the parties and gift giving and travel...

Two weeks before Christmas last year for us: hustling and bustling with children activities and lots of work, with absolutely no shopping complete.


In some ways Christmas snuck up on us. I know, it's the same time every year, but we were so immersed in the daily stuff that planning for something even two weeks away seemed luxurious and frankly, impractical.

My husband and I had our social and professional calendars booked. When were we going to have time to shop for Christmas? In exhausted exasperation, we added a date for shopping after his office Christmas party. 

On the evening of the office party, we donned our holiday duds (and even smelled good!) and we whisked off together, wonderful babysitter safely watching over the den for the duration. At the cocktail reception, we mingled with couple after couple, making conversation about one another's holiday plans. "Are you ready for Christmas?" we heard over and over. 

Funny enough, whether we were caught by surprise or not, it was coming - Christmas was coming. In the din of jovial conversations, I remembered the wonder of the season. I was struck by the silly and temporal nature of my worries as I explained over and over that we were behind on our preparations. You know how sometimes hearing yourself say something makes you realize just how ridiculous you are?

That we hadn't (gasp!) shopped for Christmas.

And although I was stressed by all that I had to do, I felt a glimmer of hope that no matter what was still left in boxes or unchecked off the list, Christmas was still coming. Christ's birth would still be celebrated - and in full force at our house.

I watched my husband explain to his colleagues, in good humor, how we were going out AFTER the party to begin our Christmas shopping. He joked about our hot date at Toys R Us in the late hours of the night.

And I started to lighten up and embrace the adventure.

We left the party, laughing together. 

At 9pm, we were the best dressed shoppers at the toy store. With barely a soul around, you could hear our heels and dress shoes, as we meandered the aisles - he pushing the cart and me with my arm wrapped through his - strolling and talking about our life together, our children, and the joy of the season.

It was that moment right before you turn over the snow globe, when everything stands still just for a little while.

We slowed down the world and remembered the family we have built and the love that we share.

All the gifts were purchased. Checklists completed.

And Christmas did in fact come.

And it's heading our way again in two weeks. Take some time to wonder at the Glory of Christmas and wander with the ones that you love. You might have to take late night strolls through toy aisles to do so, but that's okay. Schedule in some tree light gazing together. Or cuddle close over cups of hot chocolate.

My husband's office Christmas party is this Saturday? Guess what we're doing after? This year it's intentional. No stressing... just looking forward to time together thinking about each other and the life we've made.




Pennies for Love: Wooing with Technology

When the hubs and I were dating and even in our early years of marriage, smart phones and social media were not on our radar. And now we, like the rest of the world, are connected. We have the ability to check email any time of day, Instagram the latest views, and text friends who live on the other side of the planet.

All of this is wonderful. And horrible.

The ability to connect also allows the ability to tune out, to focus on things other than each other. 

Huffington Post ran a story in June about Facebook's implications for marriage. The article is part of a growing set of data that finds social media is often linked to divorce. Just last year, divorce lawyers surveyed by Divorce-Online UK said that Facebook was the third most popular reason cited for divorces in the previous year.

Does it have to be this way? We, the victims, to the massive world of communication around us? What if we used that ability to connect instantly, to connect with the people we love the most, in meaningful ways.


1. Send sweet texts during the day: We use texting to ensure that the person we want to contact gets our message right away. How about an immediate "love you always" or type a text every hour on the hour and share one thing you admire about him/her.

2. Use PDA sparingly but well: Tell the world, via Facebook or Twitter, about the man/woman who's captured your heart. Choose your shout outs with hesitation to be sure that the post is less about you and more about your love. Mark a special anniversary like the first date or first concert that lets your special someone know you are proud/excited to be a party of his/her story.

3. Share a Pinterest board: The pins can be for more than great wedding dresses and holiday recipes. Start a board together that catalogs all the places you want to travel together or intriguing books you want to read to one another... all pins based on the simple theme of spending time with one another. Dreaming together can be really powerful.

4. Read each other's photographic minds: Use Instagram to capture moments, experiences, and special meals and tag the one you love. Beauty unites us so why not make something beautiful via Instagram and send it off to let your love know you were thinking of them?

How do you use technology to create deeper connections?

xoxo, MJ

PS. If you want more ideas on how to romance for less, head on over to Joy's post that list 18 amazing ways to let someone know that you love them. And join us in two Thursdays for another something special!

A new series: Pennies for Love

Hi friends,

I've been planning a special treat for you! The amazing Joy of Frock Files has agreed to do a little collaboration, and I'm delighted to be able to share all the love with you!

Every other week, right here and there on Thursdays, we'll be focusing on easy, sweet, affordable ways to spend time and share the love with the special someone in your life. When my hubs and I fell in love, time was ours to soak in, travels were easy, and our priorities were just us.

Hop, skip, and labor to today, 11 years into marriage with three little people, car payments and mortgage, two full-time professions and a whole bunch of wisdom learned along the way. I know each new gray hair, and I've seen each dignified wrinkle add to his expressions. The sheer mass quantity of the experiences that we've shared in the 16 years we've known each other amaze me.

  1. So, let's go back to Italy and celebrate!! It's in the works but not for a few years...
  2. Let's buy a lake house and relax and flirt like we used to. A great possibility but down the road...
  3. Let's book the sitter and run away for the weekend... even that empties the wallet.

And purchases aside, spending more time gazing and less time computing would be a great switch of gears for us both.

Join us as we explore small gestures of big love - ways to show your sweetie just how much he/she means to you without spending your nest egg doing so.

Today Joy's sharing a little list of small gestures you can do right now that will completely make someone feel adored. So good...



Throwing a Birthday Party for your family

**Before we get into the meat of this idea, let me first say that I am whole heartedly for two adults celebrating the anniversary of their wedding - on their own, sans kids. In fact, I think it's a necessary and beautiful part of honoring your marriage and reflecting on the past and dreaming of what is to come.

Let's just say you ADD another party to the anniversary celebrations.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, a wise friend and mom of four talked about her wedding anniversary as the birthday of their family. I immediately warmed to the notion that the larger, rambunctious and happy family that we have today is a result of two people falling in love and making a lasting commitment to honor one another in good times and in bad.

I want my children to understand (and experience) the beauty that is trust, compassion, and loyalty. Therefore, an element of our wedding anniversary celebrations include a happy birthday to our family!! This year it included a fancy dinner out for all five of us, and a trip to see Smurfs 2 alongside some charmed conversation about dating, friendship, and (oh, yuck) Mommy and Daddy's love.

If you're ready to add another party to your anniversary happiness, here are five great ideas on how to honor your families beginnings:

How do you revel in the joy of family? I'm always looking for ideas!

xoxo, MJ 


Celebrate the Normal & the Big, Giant Wonderful

Happy Community Day, friends! Another fabulous edition of Celebrate the Normal is coming at you in just a minute. Before we go to those beauties, I have a question for you.

When was the last time you poured out a big, giant wonderful gesture of love? For your significant person, your kids, your mom ...even your dog? Or maybe this is easier, when was the last time you received a grand, sweeping gift that says, "you mean the whole kit and kaboodle to me." We all repeat the token, "it's the little things that matter..." but what about the really big things?

It's been a busy summer for me, friends, and a busy summer for my kids and hubs. We've done a lot of learning, working, and transporting and had a ton of fun in the process, but all of that awesome can leave one a bit drained and unmotivated to take on domestic rituals. Dishes have sat around too long, floors have cared for their own tribes of dust bunnies, bathrooms (well, I'll leave out the detail here), my laundry room is now our entire basement with clothes just wishing to find a home.

Connect this state of chaos with the responsibility of hosting two sets of wonderful families, both of whom have not been to our home in years, and both of whom we'd love to entertain in our home. I've been working Wednesday evenings in the office, and last Wednesday my hubs was taking care of basic cleaning tasks, bathing children, and getting them to sleep. I arrived home near midnight, promising that I'd set the alarm for super early and finish up what needed to still be done. Of course I said that even as my body was begging for rest, and my mind was well aware that, realistically, there was no way that I was getting even half of the stuff done.

I set the alarm for 4:30 am, and we both snuggled in for a few hours rest.

Bing. Cue my son coming in at 7:15 am to wake me up. I roll over and mutter something of hopeless defeat to my husband. He mutters back, "it's all done."

Not hearing or comprehending, I stumbled off to the shower and attempted to narrow down the home tasks to what I could do in sweeping strokes. Sprinting out of the shower, throwing clothes on my still-wet body, I sort of notice that the bathroom is clean (perhaps I'm just imagining it?), and stammering down the stairs I see the shiny floors, the clean laundry, and I detect a new, fresh smell coming from the kitchen.

I find my husband.

"What? How did this happen?"

Seems that my husband allowed me to fall asleep (which likely took a whole 5-10 seconds) and proceeded to clean, polish, scrub, dust, and reorganize for the next three hours. He then returned to the snuggle (I, of course, had not moved at all), and racked up a whopping 2 hours of sleep.

Friends, I married a sweet man. He showers me with attention and affection, but, even for him, this was a huge, sweeping gesture of love. And for me it was the equivalent of the Christmas commercials with the Lexus SUV all wrapped up with a giant red bow and parked in the snowy driveway.

I love him, and I've been challenged to think, "When will I show my love in big, giant wonderful ways?" How bout you?

July 17 ~ roglows

The kids and I made this "stained glass" piece yesterday. ~ jenmygatt

Lottie's first sparkler ~ Dani

Oatmeal: it's what for dinner. Don't have time to make a big dinner, so it's pumpkin peanut butter oatmeal before we head out the door. The kids think they have hit the jackpot. ~ Meagan

She's a blonde ~ melbella97

Toes in the sand ~ erin_lily

Tomato hues ~ M.J.

Biking in Canada yesterday. I want to buy our own bikes so we can ride around Seattle! ~ Elizabeth

Keep your eyes open for little acts of love coming your way this week, and set into motion your next grand gesture of love! Join us next week for another great round on Celebrate the Normal!

xoxo, MJ

Itty Bitty Lovelies You'll Need

Well, hello there, Monday! This week is going to be sweet, and I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy that you stopped over to say hey today.

Our weekend was a slow one, just as I like them in February. And I, a lover of the sun, was surprised by my disappointment over the bright rays greeting me on Saturday morning. I was wishing for just a bit more darkness to let me get a few more winks of sleep. Maybe I'm turning into a bear? Certainly my eating habits are becoming closer to that of a hibernating animal. Nevertheless, more time snuggling and resting is good for my soul.

To start off this week with a little extra kick, I'm sending you three items that you may not have even KNOWN you needed (including a special list that will make your husband fall in love with Meg forever, trust me and read on).

The Perfect Scent


I'm down to my last drips of a favorite perfume, and I'm ready to try something new. I found this amazing guide to perfumery over at Design Mom that I just had to share with you. It talks about the difference between Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum (I've always wondered), examines the categories of scents (I'm citrus all the way, how bout you?), and even suggests what might work best for you based on your skin type. I feel so much more knowledgeable and excited to purchase my next perfume.

Creativity with Chicken


We eat a lot of chicken in our house. My kids joke that I know 20 different ways to make chicken, but, in reality I have 3 go to dishes, and I'm always looking for new ways to spice up an economical, child-pleasing main meal. Enter these great ideas from TheKitchn. 10 new ways (for me) to cook up fun, flavorful meals. These are all approachable and interesting for both adults and children. On our menu plan for this week, BBQ chicken with carmelized onions, and planning on having the Thai chicken in weeks ahead.

Every Husband's Favorite Blogger


Meg from Meg in Progress is hilarious, charming, and one dynamo writer. She's been sweeping the internets with her great posts on relationships and whooing the world on some live TV interviews. This post has gotten a lot of attention, and for good reason. Meg outlines for all of wifeys just why we should have sex with our husbands every. single. day. Go read this one and then send it to your husband and watch him smile.

My Itty Bitty Lovely is not quite as intriguing but more of a happy reminder. Always give yourself something to look forward to. It can be small or gigantic. We all need to cultivate hope. The hubs and I booked tickets to Wicked for my birthday (in May), and I am super excited. I loooove musicals, and I enjoyed the book so it's something small but awesome to remember during the windchill of -10 kinda days.

Let's kick this week off right!


A Summer of Happiness in the Second Week

The talented Denise at Hello Moxie (hello, have you seen her photos? Wowzer.) has inspired a Summer of Goodness here on Pars Caeli, the weekly bookclub capturing the best elements of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

Last week I challenged myself to Act More Energetic, a resolution that Gretchen had set for herself in Chapter 1. Real quick recap: Done with Difficulty. In the last seven days, I've had both daughters up vomiting through the night, causing worry, mess, and less sleep for all of us. They both recovered quickly but the witching hour of 4pm (that's our roughest hour with everyone between meals and ready for a break. Do you have one of these in your house?) fought me and drained what little bit of zeal I had left in me from sheer determination. Nevertheless, I do think focusing on energy and being more present and awake in the moment was really helpful, and I saw the positive ways my children responded to this effort.

Chapter Two takes us to Marriage

Here are the resolutions that Gretchen set out:

  • Quit nagging
  • Don't expect praise or appreciation
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love 
My hubby and I have been married ten years in August, and we've been in love for fifteen. I first admired and respected him as a man of great integrity and character. I fell for his wit, his enveloping expressions of love, and his determination. I can be a self-doubter, but I am sure, and I was sure as I've never been before or since, that he was the man for me...the one with whom I wanted to live in happiness for the rest of our lives.

Marriages are as different as the individuals who vow to be a part of them. I thought this, often, as I read through Gretchen's struggles and solutions in this chapter. Had I made a list on how to be happy + married (which I'm crafting) I don't know that I would include points one, two, or four...and I'm not sure if three and five would make my top resolutions.

In fact, in a similar way to Denise, I was pretty frustrated with Gretchen early on in the chapter. I believe that good marriages necessitate both individuals being loudly, passionately, and lovingly themselves. Simple eg: If you feel like sending Valentine cards is an important part of who you are, then your spouse should know this. He/she does not always have to honor every request and whim, but simply swallowing your needs and wants does not lead to happiness (in my experience).

It also felt strange to me that she didn't let her husband into the research and practice more (part of me even felt bad for him as she was experimenting with different approaches to see his reaction).

But I get it. This book is about the process, the project.

Here are some take aways that I did love:

#1. I was entirely engaged with the Fight Right section. I'm fiesty and often too defensive. I could use help here. I am, like Gretchen, a snapper. Her description of couples who fight right made sense.

Couples...tackle only one difficult topic at a time...these couples ease into arguments instead of blowing up immediately-and avoid bombs such as "You never..." and "You always.
 Ewh, yuck, I utter both of those.

#2. I've been rolling this one over and over in my head:

In marriage, it's less important to have many pleasant experiences than it is to have fewer unpleasant experiences, because people have a "negativity bias"; our reactions to bad events are faster, stronger, and stickier than our reactions to good events.
YES! I get this. In fact, my husband just brought up a morning conversation he had with a blogger about how much more attention negative posts get than positive. Our media is geared toward negativity and drama, and our brains are wired for it, too.

#3. Loved this one:

Although men and women agree that sharing activities and self-disclosure are important, women's idea of an intimate moment is a face-to-face conversation, while men feel close when they work or play sitting along someone.
 From the moment I met my husband, I was struck by what a great companion he was. Never had I met someone so open to accompanying and going alongside of me (and not directing, negotiating, or just letting me go on my own). We both work a lot from home, and even the simplest gesture of the dualing laptops, sitting close on the couch means a lot.

#4. The good word from Yeats:

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.

Definitely, yes. I have always been given a lovely space to grow and find new pathways to life fulfillments but am I offering the same? How are we helping each other to grow?

So here's what I'm working on for the week. It's not exactly one of Gretchen's resolutions, but she touched on it in her research.

#2 from my takeaways:

Create less negative experiences.

In many ways this ties up all of the resolutions. I am going to work on fighting right & offering more expressions of love. And I'm going to focus on him, and in the forefront of my mind, even with all the craziness that is life, I will create (meaning I have control of this) less negative. And I will naturally create more positive.

What are your thoughts, readers? Did you identify more with Gretchen's resolutions?

What will you take on this week?

Here's a pinnable for you. I've been talking with my kids about this a lot since reading. We've been practicing hugging each other while saying, "I love you, I love you." thoughtfully. That's about six seconds. So far, it's fabulous!