On the Shoulders of Giants – A Guide to Virtual Mentors

None of us gets there alone.  Not one among us is self-made.  We are people, craving human connection and influenced in individualized and complex forms.  We are taught what to do and what not to do by the people in our lives.  We are shaped and molded by the people we spend the most time with.  We learn how to mimic and become the best form of those around us, or they offer us text book examples of what we don’t ever want to become ourselves.

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. 

Name those people.  Is that who you aspire to become?  If so, then you are in good shape.  If not, what can you do to turn that theory in your favor – to step outside of the law of averages to overcome the boundary lines that have been drawn for you?

I will tell you what I do – I seek out an expert and imitate their systems. A Virtual Mentor.

When things get bad, or when inspiration strikes, I seek out expert advice.

I read their books, blogs, and listen to their podcasts; tweak their systems to meld into my own.

What I have discovered about myself is that I can do anything and accomplish great things when I have a system.  Trying to lose weight?  Get a system.  Clean and organize the house? Get a system.  Putting your finances in order?  Get a system!  Over the course of the last 20 years I have done them all and I am happy to say that as long as I find a system that works for me, and I work that system,  great strides have been met, and most importantly, maintained.

I am going to do you a favor and introduce you to my favorite virtual mentors.

Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey has a cult-like following, and he covers all of the basics.  I listened to his 3 hour podcast daily way back before podcasts were cool and it really helped me to define where my contentment lay, to cure my stuff-itis and my house fever.  It helped me to follow his step by step plan and reprogram my consumer-minded thinking.  In addition to the Dave Ramsey Show, we have the Financial Peace Home Study kit.  My husband and I have been through the series 4 times.  All four times have benefited us, each time going a deeper layer to the next level.  I have also used the ELPs, the Endorsed Local Providers for our investing needs.  EntreLeadership is the first podcast that exposed me to high-level leaders and opened a huge door of experts to me.  I listened to that weekly, even though I don’t own a business and never intended to start one.  I still took valuable insights from each episode.  Ramsey Solutions are rapidly expanding check out their website for a full range of podcasts, books, and courses that may be of interest to you.

Thomas StanleyThe Millionaire Next Door

Thomas Stanley has sadly passed away, but his research into the everyday millionaire in the United States was fascinating and had me riveted from the moment I picked it up.  It was the first book of its kind that I had read.  Statistical and data driven, laced with personal stories and examples of millionaires in their own words.  Example after example of how the people who look rich, ain’t rich.  Rife with friendly, likeable, honest men and women of character and hard work, going against social norms to the beat of their own drum.  I also read The Millionaire Mind, The Millionaire Women Next Door, and his blog.  His foundation continues on and his work lives on through his partner and his foundation.

David Bach

David Bach wrote the Smart Finish Rich Series.  Smart Couples Finish Rich is the first book of his that I read.  He has also been a hot topic in financial articles, blogs and television interviews as well as a renowned speaker.  He was the first one to teach me how to set up goals for how to pay yourself first, not only by automatically setting up retirement investments and automatic bill paying, but really, first determining what it is you live for, and funding those goals and dreams before your money flows through the checking account leaving your wish lists behind and unfulfilled.  His dream basket savings accounts changed our entire financial philosophy and transformed everything.  Instead of just saving to save, we were saving to fund for our dream honeymoon of ten days in the Jamaican sun – and that was something we could easily exchange for overspending in other areas.  In addition to the dream basket savings accounts, we still use the financial file box system we set up 10+ years ago.  It is a relief to have a spot to file all of our important papers as they come in the mail slot.  I used to save all of my papers, but they were in cardboard paper file boxes – haphazardly – until that box got full and I started a new one. Shamefully, I had a few boxes piled high in the corner.  When I needed something I had to search through all of those boxes frantically until I could locate the items.  I realize I could have bought a file cabinet at any time, but the truth is, that without a system, I didn’t get around to it.  Get his instructions from the back of his books or find it here.

Farnoosh Torabi

Farnoosh Torabi hosts the podcast So Money and has written three books You’re So Money, Psych Yourself Rich, and When She Makes More.  She also writes a finance column for O Magazine, and I love me some Oprah!  I love the wide ranging variety of authors and topics Farnoosh hosts on her show.  Her longevity in the world of financial journalism brings heavy-hitting big names to the table like old friends.  Topics of personal finance, women breadwinners, businesses and non-profits, and she answers Q&A style on Ask Farnoosh Fridays.  She keeps it fresh with different series such as a special theme weeks for Millionaire Next Door types and interviewing family members of successful thought leaders, including her own parents and Ramit Sethi, his mom and his sister.

Chalene Johnson

Chalene Johnson gave me a new passion for living life according to my goals.  She has a podcasts that I adore – The Chalene Show and Build Your Tribe.  Twenty minutes of easy listening, inspiring, bite size chunks of how to have a better outcome on life and increase your productivity.  The author of PUSH goals and co-founder of Courageous Confidence Club and Smart Success Academy she has helped me take my dream goals and put them into action, step by step, 90 days at a time.  Whereas David Bach showed me how to fund my bucket savings account, Chalene Johnson has helped me to live out my bucket list.  In addition to stirring a voice inside of me to write down this system as well as inspire me to begin looking keeping my eye out for a side hustle income.  Although I had been listening to Entreleadership Podcast for some time prior to finding Chalene Johnson, I had only been thinking in terms of help for my husband’s side business or how to be a leader within the parameters of my 9-5 status.  I had no interest in running my own company.  But as I listened, a side hustle became very interesting to me, especially as I realized my income was limited by the salary set by my employers. and the hours in a day, week, or year.

Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi has totally blown my mind with his psychology of business and money.  I have only just begun to scratch the surface of the potential return on investments from his programs, but it isn’t from lack of resources.  His site, I Will Teach You To Be Rich is full of free information that is far better than what his competitors charge for.  Ramit authored his first e-book for $4.95, apologetically, and has 10X’ed his results ever since.  His material has helped me to overcome timidness in my ability to earn more money, has opened my mind to the possibilities and philosophy of a rich life.  Not just a rich bank account – which takes an achingly long time to do with a fixed employee income and no side hustle!

To date, I have purchased one course, How To Find Your Dream Job.  While I am looking into new career opportunities and have not yet found a new career path that is the right fit, I have used the techniques to research new positions and to better my standing in my current position.  Check out his blog and his courses such as Earn 1K, how to launch a business and earn $1,000 in your first month, How To Find Your Dream Job, Zero to Launch, or Growth LabGrowth LabGrowth Lab.

Even his free material will change the way you see your financial situation.  His courses are priced at a premium –  so I don’t recommend that you buy them until you are out of debt and have an emergency savings set aside and are in a stable position – but you don’t have to buy the courses to get benefit and value from his research.  I love that he blocks people with credit card debt from buying his flagship courses.  He encourages his readers to instead pay off their credit card debt, read his free material, and come back for the course when they are ready for it.  And even if you don’t follow all of the steps in the program in order and step by step, I am confident that you get out of the course what you put into it.

Tim Ferris

Tim Ferris has a long form podcast that can be very intense intellectually, which I love, although I sometimes I am like WTF   – what are they talking about?! The first podcast I listened to was a very intense one about ketogenic diets.  I encourage you to keep listening – even if you have no idea what they are talking about.  Being a fly on the wall listening in to these conversations will open you up to a whole world of subjects that you may otherwise no nothing about.

Tim interviews top world class experts teasing out their tips and tricks in his podcast and his newest books Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors.  He has also written The Four Hour Work Week, The Four Hour Body, and The Four Hour Chef. I haven’t gotten to all of those books yet!  So I can’t break those down for you, but I can assure you that they are on my radar and his podcast is played weekly if not daily.  His daily rituals breakdown is fascinating to me and although I have not tested or experimented to nearly the level that he has with rituals, my interest is piqued and hope to run through the gamut of his guests’ responses as I go.

Currently my morning rituals are inspired by Chalene Johnson and Tim Ferris.  I wake, make my bed, exercise, make a cup of lemon and ginger tea, and write for thirty minutes.  If I am lucky and it is nice out, I will walk my dog, then hurry to get ready and to work by 8 am.  Truth be told, I am not that great at this routine at the moment.  I often spend far too long hitting the snooze button for hours or scrolling mindlessly through facebook posts.  But what I am aware of, through listening daily to top performer interviews on his podcast, is that daily rituals are indicators of having a successful day, so I continue to work on it.

Being Boss

Being Boss – Emily and Kathleen are all about being boss and being apologetically yourself while earning a profit.  Two boss ladies who feel like your best friends after listening to these two business besties rift off of and compliment each other’s work flow each week.  This is another one that I began listening to because I loved the topics and the energy and passion that they have for their own side hustles and for the side hustle of others even though I had no intention of starting a business.  Hearing them break it down and the enthusiasm for the process leaves me yearning for more creative and fulfilling work.  I had heard the phrase passion project before, but the inspiration for starting your own passion project is magnetizing while listening to these two hand out their best actionable tips and tricks.  And the downloads these two offer?  Do yourself a favor and get on their newsletters ASAP.  They are top notch and truly thought provoking, reaching deep into your psyche and pulling out your purpose in small actionable steps.

Jenny Shih

Jenny Shih is my newest obsession.  She’s a business coach who focuses on helping you get the results you want on your own terms.  I love that she focuses on getting one on one clients in a busy world of courses and online programs.  It’s a great way to get started connecting and engaging with clients, and gives you space to grow at your own pace – so that you can still have the freedoms that attracted you to your own business in the first place.  What’s the point of freeing yourself from your 9-5 if all you are going to do is chain yourself to your desk and work at home?  That’s not to say that you can’t have massive growth following her program.  Quite the opposite.  Jenny’s all about growing your business step by step without overwhelm and without hustling 24-7. I’ve been enrolled in the  Make It Work Online  workshop and prep school since November and her community of power house women are rock solid.  She’s doing great things over there so if you are thinking of an online business be sure to check her out.

Next week, I’ll be back to introduce you to a few more of my favorite mentors, that are a little less known for their financial and business mentor-ship, though, they often do have financial and business resources as well.


  1. Write down the 5 people you spend the most time with.
  2. Review the list and really think about if this is who you want to emulate and project into the world.  If so, great!  You can stop here.
  3. If not, Find one Virtual Mentor and really dive into their content. Only one at a time.  Let it soak in, let their outer voice become your inner voice.  Retrain your brain.

New Year, New You?

The Art of Love & Money - Plan For a New Year

New Year, New You?

Or New Year, Same You?  Just with new insights, new thoughts, new ideas, new plans.

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions like I once did.  I mean, an arbitrary day of the year to set everything all new and fresh and better, just because the date on the calendar has switched?  I just don’t know.

What I do believe in is setting goals, writing down dreams, making them happen by turning your dreams into step by step processes.

I’ll share my process with you.  If you haven’t done your New Year’s Goals yet, you can do them along with me.  If you have done them, you can review them with me and tweak yours as you see fit.

I spend the week between Christmas and The New Year just jotting down notes, exploring my thoughts and feelings.  The actual goals come later.  I like to reset my goals quarterly.  It keeps me moving and it keeps me accountable.  If I have a whole year to do something, it’s likely not to get done.  If I have 90 days, that’s 9 ten day sessions, and I’d better get started right away.

Stop Doing This in 2018

I made a list of things that I no longer want to do with my life in the New Year.


Telling the same old story.

Judging and comparing.

Listen, we all do this is some form.  Prefacing these complaints with “I don’t want to judge…” “Not to complain, but….” does nothing to make me feel less icky.  As human beings, we all have thoughts that occasionally sound like judgements when spoken out loud.  This year, I am going to focus on letting the thought come, and then letting it go without have to discuss it.

I have this really terrible habit of trying to guess what other people are thinking of me.

What Other People Think of Me is None of My Business

This year, I am not going to tell the same story out loud in my head over and over.

This year, I want to catch these thoughts, remind myself that this is a story I am telling myself, and that I have no idea what other people are thinking, why they would ignore my messages, or otherwise exclude me.

I’m going to focus on what I can control:  How I act and how I behave, how I show up.  The rest is not up to me.

Brené Brown has a great example of this in her conversation with Chase Jarvis. Watch the whole conversation here.  (Starts about minute 13:00.)

Do This in 2018

I then brainstormed a list of new things I’d like to start doing in 2018.

Drink more water.  My body shows signs of dehydration on the regular and I ignore it.  I ‘feel’ fine.  But I also have no idea how I would ‘feel’ if I was fully hydrated.

Sleep.  Rest. Go to bed early with my husband.

Eat well balanced, healthy prepared meals together.

Work when at work and then get out of there on time.

Set aside a time to blog, podcast, and book club and then be done with it until the next day.  Don’t toil away on it all day into the next and constantly feel behind.  This is a labor of love.  So do the work you love, call it good enough, then live a full life from anywhere other than behind the computer screen.

Places I want to Explore in 2018

Next, I scratch down all of the places I hope to explore in the upcoming year.

I write them all down.

I can’t do them all at once, but I just write them all down and see how it moves me.  I’m only half of the couple, so my husband and I will reconcile these destinations later, but first it’s important to get them out of my own head and onto a sheet of paper.

Things I want to Accomplish in 2018

I write down all of the things I’d like to try out or accomplish in the New Year.

More daydreaming.  Later, I’ll assign these goals into actionable steps with dollar amounts and deadlines assigned.  For this week, it’s just a fun brainstorming session where I can allow myself the possibilities of what is to come.

Choose a Word for 2018

Maybe you want to choose a theme for the New Year.  Once, I chose the theme “Anti-procrastination” because I was so tired of having all of the same items on my list year after year.  That year, we waterproof-ed the basement, poured a new sidewalk, and did our estate planning.  I think you can see why those things sat on the list year after year.  I can plan out a dream kitchen like nobody’s business, but planning our estate was not sexy.  The thrill was not in the doing, but in not having to write this same thing down  on the list again the following year.

P.S. This is still not totally done, but we did get a good start on it.  Things are organized enough to the point of being able to be implemented as our wishes.  << Lies. We tell ourselves.

Maybe your word will be Gratitude.  Or Health and Well Being.  The point of having a word or a phrase is to hold all of your decisions for the year up against this word and ask if your actions are propelling your goals or holding you back.

Reflect Back on 2017

Review your old journals and notes from the past year.  Look at all of the items you crossed off!  Track your Net Worth.  Look back over the years to see how far you have come.  Reminisce the fondest memories of the year.  Celebrate accomplishments. Wander through the good times.  This last year, I used a joy jar.  Every day, I would tear off a scrap of notebook paper and scribble something that gave me joy during the day.  Don’t be a perfectionist.  This is not meant to be pretty and only use the best paper and pens and handwriting.  It’s meant to track the joy you felt in the year.  I didn’t get to it every day.  I didn’t write down the absolute best days.  I know because I didn’t take it to Ireland with me.  And I didn’t do it while in Kansas City for our weekend getaway and I was not taking the time to do it while our grandchildren visited over the summer.

Try Something New for Thirty Days

I watched this great TedX video clip by Matt Cutts the other night and I loved it as an alternative to New Year’s Resolutions.

There you have several options to try out.  You don’t have to reinvent a whole new you if you find that exhausting.  You don’t have to be super-human and a perfectionist robot who never swears, drinks or eats too much.  You can be YOU and you can be Glorious, have a lot of fun, and conquer your own little corner of the world.

Happy New Year!


ACTIONABLE STEP:  Try your hand at each of these goal setting techniques, see which one resonates with you most.  Plan out 2018 to be a great year!  Email me or comment below – I’d love to hear what you are most excited about for 2018.


Miriam’s Blue Smokey Eye Tutorial

Hey, Girl!

I hope you are enjoying the Holidays and Miriam’s make-up tips and tricks.

As you roll into the New Year, and are in the process of creating new habits, tips, tricks, and routines to help you crush your goals in 2018, take a break and have some fun with your eye makeup at your NYE parties.

I love this smokey blue, but I have a hard time pulling it off.  Hopefully following along Miriam’s transformations will help me to smash it.

How about that blue?  Stunning.

Mac Deep Truth

For more on the products Miriam uses, head over to her original post on You Tube and click More… below the video.

Honestly, I’d use any blue or purple you have on hand.

Speaking of purple…

That fall off she talks about in the video is what always freaks me out.  Thanks, Miriam, for walking us all the way through it.  You look amazing, as always!

What New Year’s Eve plans do you have?  What makeup looks are you planning?

ACTIONABLE STEP: Check out Miriam’s smokey eyes on her  You Tube Channel and brainstorm your NYE look.  What do you already have that you can use in a new, fun way?

Miriam Bulcher

Miriam Bulcher Weddings

Freckled Glam Beauty Blog

Freckled Glam You Tube Channel

Freckled Glam Instagram

You are beautiful in every way,


The Aftermath

The Art of Love & Money - Christmas The Aftermath
The Art of Love & Money – Christmas The Aftermath

So, You made it through another Christmas!

And you hauled all of the stuff home.  Yeah.  You got some stuff!

The holidays are fantastic for spending time with family, friends, and for getting dressed up, for gathering and playing games, for sitting by the Christmas tree lights in the wee hours of the night, watching Netflix with a glass of red.

I particularly enjoy turning the lights on for my morning coffee.

Oh!  And how about that sleeping in part?  I mean if you are lucky enough to have some time off where the whole family doesn’t have to be up and out the door by 8 am.

That’s bliss right there.

So enjoy that!

If you are anything like me, the first day after Christmas is easily absorbed by the perfect nothingness of the day after, but then the stuff and the decor begins to gnaw on your nerves by the 27th.  Resist the urge to pack it all up.

Instead, ease back into it.

The ONE Thing

The first thing I do is find a home for all of the gifts that got stuffed in the trunk, or shoved in the basement dumping grounds as we unload the car coming home late Christmas evening.

That’s it.  The ONE THING for the 27th is just to put all the gifts in their place.

If you have returns, you can put them back in their shopping bags with the receipts.

If they are clothes, wash them – or just hang them in your closet.

Toys can be UN-packaged, assembled, and loaded with batteries as the kids make their way through the toy pile.

The gift boxes and bags can be salvaged, folded and sorted into a pile for next year.  I keep a couple of totes in the basement for gift wrap.  One is for Christmas wrap and one is for Birthdays and all other occasions.  Stash them in there.

I know the urge to PITCH IT ALL!

But I am always glad when I don’t have to spend $4.95 to put the thing that I bought in something that I can wrap paper around, that also costs, $4.95 so that I can give the actual gift.

Look at you!  Already saving $10 for Christmas next year! 😉

Eat some left overs, and call it a day.

Making Way

A couple of days into the restful Christmas break before the writing and planning and goal setting for the New Year, I’ll have a clean out day.  I clean out the closets and drawers and have the kids do the same in their rooms with their clothes and toys.  Honestly, for the kids, it’s BEST to have them do this before Christmas, as they write their wish list to Santa.  I have seen some very creative ways to entice children into giving and donating their old toys in anticipation for the new.

It makes putting their new toys away so much easier!

I try not to stress over this, and I just do an hour or so at a time.  Put on some good music, or a podcast and turn your thoughts ahead to what you want to accomplish in the New Year.  Organizing makes for great alone time in your own head!

As you make your way through the house, bring the bags out to the trunk and at the end of the week make a haul to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, World Relief, or Veteran’s drop-off center.

This is another way you can bless not just your own home and mindset, by clearing out the clutter – but you can bless other’s as well.  One man’s trash really IS another man’s treasure.

Disassembling the Tree

I save the taking the tree down until I need to go back to work.  Usually around the 6th of January.  I don’t know, I just like it to be up all through New Year’s and into Boxing Day, which I don’t actually celebrate, but it just feels festive to me to have the tree and the lights up through early January.

Gather everyone in the house, crank up the music, and create an assembly line putting all of the stuff away that you got out a few weeks ago, in reverse order.  Throw it all back in the Christmas tote.

If you are especially brave, you can purge old decor that you’re not that into anymore.  Or reorganize the tote for easier placement next year.

To be honest, I have been stuffing decorations back into those totes for the last 20 years.  I kind of like keeping all the older decor so i can mix it up – I’ve gone from a flocked artificial tree with blue and silver ornaments, to a more traditional multicolored tree, to rusts, golds, reds and creams to match the living room decor (yikes), and now it’s black fishnet ribbons and red boudoir feathers and sparkly silver spikes.

The Rest of It

I usually leave the wreaths and the window boxes in place throughout the rest of the winter.  In Illinois, January, February, and March can be pretty darn bleak, and I don’t mind a little greenery one bit.

As the weather warms, I’ll spend a day putzing around in the yard pulling out the decorations, repacking  the totes, and tossing out the evergreens as I cut back the plants.

Basically, I leave the evergreens in place as long as they still look good and aren’t making a mess.

So, that’s how to survive the aftermath of Christmas.  Take it slow and allow yourself some restful recovery as you enter the New Year.

Wishing you a rich and fulfilling life in 2018!


Miriam’s Retro Makeup Tutorial

Hey, Ladies!  I hope you are enjoying the Holidays and Miriam’s make-up tips and tricks.

This simple retro look will be perfect for that little black dress at any holiday party you have on your calendar.

Because, life’s not all about assets and dividend classes, sometimes us girls just want to have fun and look good doing it!

This year, my work Christmas party is a Roaring ’20’s party.  I’ve got a blue lace dress that is new, but has a vintage look and will go with the theme well enough.

I’m thinking I’ll try my hand at this makeup look.

And those lips?  That color is to die for!

LA Splash Cosmetics Smitten Lip Tint Mousse in “Inflamed”

For more on the products Miriam uses, head over to her original post on You Tube and click More… below the video.

My husband also suggested that I add a lace headband/ headpiece to the ensemble.  Maybe doing my hair in waves.

What holiday party plans do you have?  What make up looks are you planning?

ACTIONABLE STEP: Check out Miriam’s retro makeup look and brainstorm you Holiday look.  What do you already have that you can pull together into a fab ensemble?

Miriam Bulcher

Miriam Bulcher Weddings

Freckled Glam Beauty Blog

Freckled Glam You Tube Channel

Freckled Glam Instagram

You are beautiful in every way.


Christmas Gift Wrapping

The Art of Love & Money - Christmas-Gift-Wrapping
The Art of Love & Money – Christmas-Gift-Wrapping

Wrap it Up

Sooooooo…. How’s the Holiday shopping going?  Hopefully you’re all done and ready to wrap things up.

Ha! Pun intended.  Sorry not sorry.

If you haven’t finished up your shopping you can head over to this post for tips and snag your Christmas List & Budget..

I like to ‘make a night out of it’  for wrapping gifts.

Let’s back up a step.  First of all, we stash all the gifts in one easy to relocate hiding spot, (in an empty tote in the basement with all the other totes.  Totally boring and they’ll never look in there!) and then when the kids were overnight somewhere, we pulled them all out.

We have a system.

I put things in piles for who gets what and Mario removes the price tags, wraps in tissue paper and places in the gift boxes.  He sets all the receipts and tags aside and I place them in an envelope at the end of the night.

I wrap and tag (or ya know, write a name in on the package with a Sharpie).

My friend, Becca, makes Holiday tags with a Christmas font from Rad & Happy.

How adorable it that?!

Back to our wrapping night.

Yes, there is beer involved.

Yes, it’s still kind of a nightmare and my back still hurts and I still loose the tape and the scissors on repeat.  And my husband STILL finds the need to tell me that he hates it.

But, hey, we’re in this together.

Bonus tip:

When our kids were little, Santa wrapped all their gifts in a specific wrapping paper color just for them. Pick a color for each child – ideally their favorite color, or choose a color that most matches their persona that is frequently used in Holiday wrap.

No handwriting required.

Start something new:

A friend of mine doesn’t wrap the gifts from Santa at all.  The big gifts are from Santa and they are sat out on display.  Picture a doll house ready to play or a tricycle assembled and ready to ride.

The wrapped gifts are from Mom & Dad.  She wants her kids to know that there is a limit to what they can receive – and to be thankful towards Mom & Dad as well.  I think this is awesome!  It also helps them to learn to be givers, as they exchange gifts with their parents as well because they exchange gifts with their mom and dad – something they made or something they can afford out of their own budget.

The holidays are a time for traditions – pick your favorite ones from your childhood, or adopt an other’s. Do what works best for you – so that you can enjoy the season.

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Pick a night and grab a buddy and get to wrapping.  If you don’t have a partner to pair up with (or they just WON’T or you are just like, NO. then maybe pair up with a sister, a neighbor, or a friend.  Take turns helping one another.  I promise it’s GOT to be more fun with a friend.

Merry & Bright Christmas!

Miriam’s Eyeliner Tutorial

The Art of Love and Money - Meet Miriam - Eyeliner

Miriam is back with an eyeliner tutorial.  I hope that you can master this in time to rock it at your Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties.

Do you have issues with your eyeliner?  I know that I do.  I get one damn near perfect and then the next one is all wonky.  Actually the second one is just as perfect (from a safe personal space distance)

Today I’m sharing one of Miriam’s You Tube videos teaching us how to conquer that wicked line with a liquid eye liner.


Post your winged eye liner looks to The Art of Love & Money’s Facebook page and tag Miriam.

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Run – don’t walk – over to Freckled Glam and meet my girl Miriam – and don’t forget to subscribe to her You Tube channel for so much glittery glam goodness.

Miriam Bulcher

Miriam Bulcher Weddings

Freckled Glam Beauty Blog

Freckled Glam You Tube Channel

Freckled Glam Instagram



Holiday Decorating

The Art of Love & Money - Christmas Decorating
The Art of Love & Money – Christmas Decorating

Full swing into December – do you have your decorating done?

Decide what you MUST have.  Maybe it’s a tree, maybe it’s a wreath, maybe it’s the nativity scene.

List them in order of importance to you and then set aside allotted times to do the most important ones first.  If you run out of time and energy – maybe that’s okay.  Give yourself permission to not have a perfectly decorated house if that’s not in the cards for whatever reason – time, budget, energy.

We have a smooth running system.  It’s not elaborate, but it works for us, and it leaves me plenty of time to enjoy down time, hygge, and other festivities.

The Tree

We do a live tree every year.

My husband usually preps before I get home from work.  He’ll move the furniture around in the living room to accommodate the tree, get out a plastic sheet and the tree stand.

The Traditions

We usually go out to eat that night to save time.  When the kids were little, we did it on a Friday night, so we made a family night out of it, and that tradition has more or less stuck.

For, us Getting the Christmas tree = Dinner Out.

After dinner, we drive to Lowe’s and pick a pre-cut tree from the lot.

Throw that fresh-cut and baled tree in the back of the van, and viola!  Get home put it in the stand, jack around with making sure it is straight, water it with hot water, remove the baling, pull down the branches, and vacuum the carpet.  Lay the tree skirt down.

Let the branches fall over night.

The next day I put on the lights, ribbon or garland.

Do Not Be A Kill-Joy

I used to be obsessive about this and I’m not proud of this at all.  My daughter mainly remembers me being a ball of rage untangling those lights and making sure that the wires were hidden just so – barking at her to “Get back in your room!  I’ll let you know when I’m finished!”

Talk about stealing joy.


Listen, turn the lights off in the room, squint your eyes and walk to the other side of the room.  See?  It looks perfect.

These days, we set up a chair on each side of the tree, put on some 80’s rock on Pandora and pass the light string back and forth. Done, and done.

Then I do the ribbon, garland, or other trim.  I change it up every few years.

Switch it Up

This year I used feather pics and black fishnet ribbon.


The Art of Love & Money – Black Fish Net Ribbon – Hobby Lobby
The Art of Love & Money – Silver Sparkle Floral Pick – Hobby Lobby
The Art of Love & Money – Red/Black Cabaret Feather Pick – Hobby Lobby

Next, we all put the ornaments on the tree.  Pack it up, throw a frozen pizza in the oven. Done, Done, and Done.

Water and vacuum on repeat throughout the holiday season.


The following day is Sunday.  If I have time and energy, I’ll decorate outside and the mantle.  But if I’m not feeling it – I just might skip it all together or get back to it another day.

The Mantle

I buy a wreath to hang on the mantle.  I hang mini ornaments on the wreath, or add a ribbon.  It’s simple, beautiful, and the fresh evergreen smells amazing.


The Window Box

I usually cut all the dead flowers from the window box, buy a bundle of mixed evergreens – or take the cut branches from Lowes’ when we pick up the tree.


I’ve got a tote that has outdoor decorations in it – which is basically indoor decor that is worn out or I’m tired of looking at on the tree.  I’ll fill in the window box with these mixed evergreen branches, some lights, some ribbon, ornaments, etc.

Something Nostalgic

This year, I also bought a Charlie Brown tree at Lowe’s and set it up with lights and tiny ornaments next to the window box.


If there is enough evergreens, I’ll also fill in the hanging baskets on Shepard’s’ hooks in the flower beds.

I’d love to hang swags with lights all up and down my fence and put lights on my roof line, but that has not happened yet – and I’m okay with letting that go, because it’s not my main MUST have decor.


Something Unexpected

Think about an element of surprise.  For us, we wrap the knight in shining armor in lights and add a Santa hat.  Technically, it is maybe not such a surprise anymore, because we’ve been doing it for a few years running now.


I also love the idea of adding mini Christmas trees to your kid’s rooms.  Our daughter got a mini metallic pink tree in high school that we decorated with mini ornaments and beaded strings.

We have a guest room upstairs that I’d love to do a small artificial tree for some time.  I’d like to do a white tree with a really colorful theme.  And all the kid’s nostalgic ornaments of their favorite characters.  In my fantasy, I wrap the whole tree in Saran wrap and tuck it into the attic crawl space until the following year.

What’s your must haves?  What is your decorating system?

ACTIONABLE STEP: Determine your decor priorities.  Pick a date to do each of them – one step at a time.  When you are out of time, energy, or money give yourself permission to stop and enjoy the season either way.

Merry & Bright Christmas!

Meet Miriam

The Art of Love & Money - Meet Miriam

Why, hello, there!

Today I want to introduce you to my friend, Miriam.

Do you have a group of women you get together with that raise you up high?  Higher than you knew you could go?

I am part of a local blogger’s meetup; Miriam recently took over leading this group of local bloggers and I am so glad to have met her.

Miriam is smart, like, wicked smart.  She’s ambitious, and she is gorgeous.

I mean just look at her!

Miriam is a mother of two, soon to be three.  She is from Canada, and her husband is from Wisconsin.

She’s a travel photographer and has been to Europe multiple times.

How interesting is she?!  I love getting to know people – especially when their lives are so different from mine.

Miriam is a creative.  She has multiple artistic platforms that she has recently began weaving together into one –  let me share them with you here.

Miriam is a wedding and natural light photographer.

She is also a make-up artist with a You-tube channel.

And a Beauty Blogger.

At our last blogger’s meetup she led a discussion on video/vlogging for our audiences.

Informative though it was, what really got me was the personal connection aspect of it.  You see, my blogging has gotten out of hand lately with all.of.the.things.  I am writing posts three times a week, and I run a quarterly book club.  I am planning a new website. And I have plans to launch a podcast.

Miriam helped me corral these all together – you see, all of these outlets help me to create a personal connection with other women.

Smart, ambitious women who are doing things that I admire and adore.

What can I say?  I’m a girls’ girl and I am all about connection.

I am all about people, specifically women.  Because, as adult women, it can be hard to stay in contact with your friends from high school and college.  Or, we outgrow each other, or our kids aren’t in the same classes or the same schools with our mom friends anymore.  Take your pick.  It can be hard, and I don’t think we were built to walk this world alone.  As much as we love our families, and dedicate our lives to them, it’s so energizing to be with a group of women who energize, inspire, and relate to you.

I want to introduce you, Dear Reader, (So Jane Austen – I’ve always wanted to do that!) to my people.  To the the people who inspire me and are doing things that interest me.  Because if I am interested in them, maybe you are too.

I hope you love my friend Miriam.  That you enjoy her photography, that you watch her you tube channel – that you learn something fun in her tutorials and girly makeovers and cosmetic tips.

Miriam will be on the blog for the next several weeks to come.

I hope you enjoy this – and if you like this style of women connecting and friendships – then you’ll love my podcast.  Coming soon.  All.the.things….

Be sure to check back next week for an eyeliner tutorial.

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Run – don’t walk – over to Freckled Glam and meet my girl Miriam – and don’t forget to subscribe to her You Tube channel for so much glittery glam goodness.

Miriam Bulcher

Miriam Bulcher Weddings

Freckled Glam Beauty Blog

Freckled Glam You Tube Channel

Freckled Glam Instagram



Christmas List Budget & Shopping

The Art of Love & Money - Christmas List Budget & Shopping

Have you started your Christmas/Holiday Shopping yet?

If you have – good for you!

If you  not, I got you covered.

Making The List

Download the Christmas Shopping List & Budget and fill in the spreadsheet for your family’s buying needs. Determine much you will spend on each person.  We tend to assign categories of people a specific number – parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews all have a dollar amount attached to that category.

Another day,  sit down as a couple/family and fill in gift ideas.  If you have kids in your house, you can include them on the planning and shopping for relatives – especially if it’s a cousin close to their age or if they have a special bond with Grandma, etc.  It’s really important that we give our children the joy of giving to others – and not just receiving stacks on stacks on stacks.

I made this list back when the kids were younger and shopping for them was a BIG deal.  I mean, you HAD to get Christmas just right, it was everything.  You can filter it out so that the kids are hidden & print two separate lists.  One for you and one for Santa.  This was super helpful to me when I was trying to balance the needs of  multiple kids getting the same number of packages and equal(ish) spending.

Checking it Twice

The list gives you an opportunity to decide who you are buying for, how much their budget is, what you will be buying for them and what store you will need to get it.

The Christmas Shopping List & Budget also allows you to update your budget as you go.  After each shopping day, update the list.  If you go over budget on someone by $35 you’ll have to account for that out of another recipient’s budget (or another category)  in order to stay on track.  This could easily be accounted for in a sale.  If you have someone budgeted for a Hoodie- $50, and it’s on sale for $35 – win-win.

The Perfect Gift

For me, gift giving is all about finding someone something they will LOVE, it doesn’t have to cost the full budget price – it just has to be under that number and have a value that is around that number.

The best part of this list is in the archiving.  Next year it will take you even less time, because you’ll save this one as Christmas 2017, and next year you’ll keep Christmas 2017, and save as Christmas 2018.  The beauty is in looking back over the years – did we already buy her a crock pot?  Oh, remember the year we gave all the niece and nephews hoodies?  They loved that.

Shopping Plan of Attack

Plan out your shopping.  Maybe you like to split it up and spread it out throughout the month.  Smart!  We did this when our kids were younger.  We took turns staying home with the kids, doing dinner, homework, and bath nights while the other shopped for our people on the list.  Now that our kids are older, Christmas shopping is not as consuming and I’d rather get it done in large chunks.

Last year, my husband and I laid out all of our shopping to knock it out in one day.  We planned the sheet out ahead of time and then set out for breakfast at a local restaurant (what a TREAT!) and a plan of attack.

We then went to the stores, divided and conquered.

We didn’t get it all done in one day,  but we had fun trying.  Next time – we’ll add in a movie at the end of the night.

This method works best if you have a sitter for the day or the little ones are with grandparents.

Of course, online shopping is where it’s at.  If you can sit at your computer over lunch or cuddled up on the couch after bedtime click-click-clicking – that’s the sweet spot!

Just update the spreadsheet every now and then so you don’t blow the budget.  It’s hard to know what you are really spending when you have so much to buy and the purchases and the packages at the door just keep coming.

There is no right or wrong way – just have a plan and get it done so that you can enjoy your holiday season.  Break your Holiday to-do’s into manageable chunks that fit in around your celebrations – without stealing your joy.

Do What You Love

You might need to say no to some things.  That’s okay.  Decide early on what you love about the season, what you can  tolerate, and what really grates on your nerves.  Plan your calendar accordingly and try your best to eliminate the things that are not joyful.

Save for Christmas Year-Round

It can be shocking to see how much you actually spend on Christmas.  If you don’t already use a Christmas savings account, take this as an opportunity to set up an account that automatically drafts from your checking account to a savings account.

I like to use Capitol One 360, formerly ING Direct, because you can nickname the separate accounts – the accounts aren’t just a series of numbers.  There is something very satisfying about having an account with Christmas or New Car – Don’t Touch.

Divide the budgeted amount by 12 and set that amount to draft to savings automatically.

Example:  Budget is $1200.  Each month $100 is drafted to your Christmas savings account.  You can also do it twice per month if you’d prefer to draft $50 every two weeks instead.

I hope that you find this download useful and that my shopping tips can be helpful to you.  Above all else, I wish you happiness & contentment this Holiday season.  I know it can be stressful, and that it’s not a jolly time of year for everyone.  Give yourself permission to do what is joyful for you – whatever that may mean.

Spend Time Together

Christmas should not be about the gifts, so if the gifts have you feeling stressed – let everyone know you’re cutting back this year but you’d love to spend time with them.  Go to a movie or have a game night at your house.  Drive around to look at Christmas lights or walk through a decorated parkway, followed by a hot chocolate in a coffee shop.

It may seem scary to do that – but I bet you’ll look back on it as a great Christmas.

If you have really little children – I think it’s totally fine to get their gifts at a Goodwill store.  Clean them up and lay them out magically under the tree.

Take Action

ACTIONABLE STEPS:  Download the Christmas Shopping List & Budget and fill in the spreadsheet for your family’s buying needs and how much you will spend on each person.

Pick a day you can sit down and fill in the gift giving ideas and budget numbers.

Plan out your shopping trips.  Shop ’til ya drop.

Merry & Bright Christmas!

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