Date Night Ideas

35 Date Night Ideas for any couple

35 Date Night Ideas for any couple

No matter where you are in your relationship with that someone special, Dates are of the utmost importance! 

You could be planning your first date, been dating several months or years or even married – regardless, DATE NIGHT is very important.

We ladies need our guys to ask us out and take charge by planning dates for us, just like when we use to date before we were married. I’ve been married for more than 25 years and still get all kinds of giddy when the Mr. calls me up and asks me out.

Ladies, your guy is still a boy at heart when it comes to things he loves, so sometimes we will have to do things that don’t interest us but they will absolutely love it!

The trouble is we all fall into a rut and usually when speaking of Date Night the answer is “whatever you want to do” and that can be frustrating.

This list is to help you think of dates on the fly.  Some require little to no money and others will require some planning.

I’d love to have you leave your favorite date ideas in the comments below!

  1. Dinner and a movie
  2. Dinner
  3. Movie
  4. Attend a play (Your local college will likely have great ones to choose from! Check them out)
  5. Go fishing
  6. Make a Candle Light dinner at home
  7. Coffee and Bookstore date (even if you do not purchase anything other than the coffee, it’s still a fun date)
  8. Road Trip for the day
  9. Antiquing
  10. Double date with old friends
  11. Go Camping
  12. Go Roller Skating
  13. Go to a restaurant you’ve never been to before
  14. Netflix night
  15. Visit the Zoo
  16. Go to the Circus
  17. Game night
  18. Comedy show (you may have to really look into the schedule to find some good clean comedians, but they are out there)
  19. Volunteer together
  20. Go Bowling
  21. Get him tickets to see his favorite Basketball (sports) team
  22. Go to a Monster Truck show
  23. Take in a Rodeo
  24. Visit a local Art Gallery
  25. Weekend trip away
  26. Have a Pinterest weekend (pick a few projects and work on together)
  27. Night at a local hotel (you don’t have to go away, sometimes just a night at a hotel down the road is just as fun)
  28. Attend a Concert
  29. Treat each other to a Spa Night and/or bubble bath together
  30. Ice Skating
  31. Go Rock Climbing
  32. Take in a Baseball Game
  33. Go Strawberry picking
  34. Attend a Carnival
  35. Stargazing (set up a few lounge chairs, grab binoculars even get a pink pair for the lady and check out the skies)

These are just a few to get you started!

Write down these and many others and put them in a jar and draw them out randomly!

What is your favorite date? What is your favorite first date? How often do you date?

PS – If you have small children at home, it is extremely important to still date.  You’ll show your children that dating doesn’t end after marriage and when the children grow up and move out, you’ll keep doing what you’ve always done and that is date and love each other.


*This post is sponsored by Christian Mingle.  Check out their new website and browse for free.  Follow them on Twitter @ChristianMingle and like their Facebook Page 


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No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Easy, Delicious – No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

This past weekend our son came home for a very short but wonderful visit.  I wanted to make him something that I knew he’d love so I decided to try some No Bake Peanut Butter Bars that I found floating around on Pinterest.

It’s a wonder that he even likes peanut butter because the entire time I was pregnant with him, the smell of peanut butter would make me sick.

This treat is super easy and I’m thinking when the holidays roll around, I’ll be making several batches of it to give as a homemade treat.


pb bars

For the Peanutty Goodness You’ll Need:

2 cups of peanut butter (Note: most recipes I saw only called for a cup of peanut butter, or maybe even a cup and a half.  I thought this isn’t “no bake graham cracker crumbs” so why would they only use a cup of peanut butter? Go with the 2 FULL cups, you’ll be glad you did!)

3 1/2 cups of powder sugar

1 cup of melted butter (I had unsalted on hand and used it, but am sure either will be just fine)

1 ½ cups of graham cracker crumbs.  (*note: I almost didn’t make this because I couldn’t get past this ingredient. Doesn’t seem like it would “add” anything wonderful to it, but it works….and is delicious.)


Melt the butter and pour all of this in a bowl and mix until combined.

Spread in the bottom of wax paper (or aluminum foil) lined pan, but sneak a few bites or 7 of this yummy dessert.

This is heavenly. (and it didn’t heat up the kitchen or make a huge mess.)


top o pb bars

For the topping:

Next Melt your package of milk chocolate chips with a few table spoons of shortening or peanut butter and pour over the top.

Let set up for about half an hour (or 5 min in the fridge) then slice and enjoy!

I actually used some chocolate “candi quick” that I had on hand. Comes with its own microwave safe pan and is easy to melt.  Tastes amazing.


If you whip this up, let me know your thoughts.  It literally is as easy as it sounds and chances are you have everything you need in the pantry.  Been wondering what to do with those graham crackers? Well, here you go.

It would be more work, but you could use this, make the peanut butter mixture in to balls and dip in chocolate.

Or you could put the peanut butter mixture into mini muffin cups and then pour over the chocolate and have bite size servings you can package beautifully. 

Make double and share with your local Volunteer Fire Fighters, neighbors or as a treat for a new mom or someone that just recently got home from a hospital stay.

What are some of your “sharing” suggestions for this wonderful treat?



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Surviving the Empty Nest

surviving the empty nest

Now that the kids are both out on their own and the emotional trauma of them both leaving within two weeks of each other is subsiding (slooooowly subsiding), we are getting back to doing the things we did before the kids came along.  Well…mostly.


surviving the empty nest

After long difficult days, we find ourselves watching TV and snacking – and neither is a good long term solution.

I’ve jotted down a few things that you can do together as a family or with just your spouse.  Either way, it doesn’t involve watching the TV.

Put down the remote and put away the popcorn and slooooowly step away from the Reese’s cups and have fun.

Here are a few things that the Mr. and I like to do together:

  • Walking Trails – We love Crowder’s Mountain
  • Sitting under the stars and chatting
  • Visit a bookstore/coffee shop
  • Day trip to explore our area or towns close by
  • Driving Range – smacking a golf ball with all of your might is great therapy. Just sayin
  • Spend a day at an amusement park
  • Go to a fancy schmancy dinner somewhere – LOVE getting all dolled up
  • Go to local restaurants you’ve never tried. We love doing this! We often find ourselves wondering why we haven’t tried the restaurant before.
  • Pinterest Projects – we’ve done a few.  I’ve done a few.  Will share here so you can decide with me if it’s a win or fail.
  • Make homemade pizza or Stromboli
  • Paint a room
  • Walk in the rain
  • Shooting Range
  • Have photos printed out and put together an album
  • Volunteer together
  • Spend the night/weekend in a cabin or other unusual place
  • Card Games
  • Board Games
  • Visit your state’s capitol and museums
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Go to a baseball game or other sporting event
  • Go fishing
  • Trace your family tree
  • Cook together and try one brand new recipe a week

These are just a few things that we’ve done and love to do.

What do you like to do together? Do you have an article about date nights or empty nesting?  If so, I’d love for you to leave the link below in the comment section so that our readers can easily connect to you and be encouraged. 

If you have children at home, do you still have Date Night?  If not, you should.  A weekly or bi-weekly date night is very important.  It doesn’t have to cost a thing, it just needs to happen.

Here are some links to some ideas I’ve gathered from Pinterest:

Ideas for the weekend

Fun Foods

For kids

Homemade Gifts


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20 Inexpensive yet Heartwarming Gifts

20 easy heartwarming gift ideas

Christmas is a time for giving, loving and sharing. 

If you are like me, you have so many people you want to give to but finances just don’t allow you to give at the level your heart desires.  Instead of cutting people off of your list, adjust it a little bit with some inexpensive gifts that are easy to make and will warm the heart with fond memories.

Practical, easy….memorable…let’s get to it hmm?  (Read all the way to the bottom to see how easy it is to make gifts dipped in chocolate, I think you’ll be surprised.)

Talk about fun ways of spreading joy – this will be great fun!

Inexpensive, Easy yet Heartwarming Gifts:


  1.  Notes in a Jar – This gift can last an entire year long! A gorgeous jar from the dollar store and 365 notes, quotes, smiles and virtual hugs will warm hearts each day for an entire year!  You can easily doll up the jar with ribbon found in the dollar store as well.  Using notes like “Cause JOY”, “You Matter” to inspire them or use your favorite quotes.  If you know they love the Bible, mix it up with your favorite encouraging Bible Verses.
  2. Framed Photo – Give a gorgeous photo of the family that is already framed.  Take a beautiful sunset/sunrise photo and add a quote to it and frame that.  If they love the ocean or mountains, use a picture from there, add in a verse or quote and frame that.  Every time they look at it, joy will fill their heart with thoughts of you!
  3. Cup of Joy – Take a gorgeous coffee cup, tea cup and saucer and fill it full of sweet treats, coffee, coffee creamers etc for the coffee enthusiast in your world.  It will serve double duty as it holds some delicious treats as well as provides them a cup of warm thoughts throughout the year.
  4. Homemade Treats – Easier to do than you realize! Bake up a batch of brownies, chex mix or even dip some pretzels, marshmallows or Nutter Butter cookies in chocolate and drizzle with favorite sprinkles for a sweet gift.  You can get the little kids involved here and have a day of making memories as well as gifts.  The sky is the limit with these delicious gifts!
  5. Heartwarming, hand written letter – Sometimes there is just nothing better than a hand written letter of thanks, love and appreciation.  It can be read and re-read anytime!  You’d be surprised a just how heartwarming this gift truly can be.
  6. Photo Collage – We love photos and when you add 3 or 4 in one, the smiles just get bigger.  Make a photo collage of your times together, the parties or celebrations.  Do one with kids through the years, skipping a few years in between so they can see how they’ve grown.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this will surely be priceless!
  7. A box of Kisses – With the decorative boxes that are available these days, this will be super easy and bring lots of smiles each time a kiss is unwrapped.  Find a cute box, fill full of kisses and toss in a handwritten card and you are handing over a gift of love!  Mix it up by giving “hugs and kisses” together.
  8. Handmade Ornament – For the crafty types, this is quite an easy gift.  Me, not so much, but some of them, I feel like even I could do.  Take a clear round bulb, square or whatever you have, toss in some gifts you’ve cut off a garland, some shiny gift filler, or write on it with paint pens and poof, you’ve got an awesome gift that will be treasured each Christmas.
  9. Gifts in a Jar – Brownies, cookies, soups and spices can be amazing gifts when you toss all the dry ingredients in a jar, attach instructions and package in a fun, creative way.  Thousands of recipes will provide HUGE smiles as they are being prepared! If the jars are too expensive, use some Ziploc bags and then place in a Christmas Cello Bag that you get 10 in a pack from the dollar store.
  10. Personalized Cookie Plate – Using a Christmas plate from the dollar store and some markers, and a little baking in the oven, you can personalize this gift and then add some cookies you’ve prepared just for them.  The plate can also have a memory such as hand prints, feet prints etc.  When you combine a foot with 2 hands, you have an instant angel for Grandma and Grandpa.  Be sure to jot down what year and the age of the child.
  11. The Write Stuff – Give a nice journal and gel pens to someone.  On the first page tell them how thankful you are for them and that you hope they can fill this journal with warm thought s from their grateful heart.
  12. Board Games & Snacks – inspire a time of food and fun with friends with this gift. There is nothing like game night! Great laughter, lots of memories and some whining….if you are like me and lose most of the time.  PRICELESS!
  13. Note Cards and Stamps – A gift that will keep on giving! The stamps will cost the most, but you can get the cards for a buck at the dollar store.  Package it in a nice cello bag and know that your gift will encourage more than the one you gave it to.
  14. Fuzzy Socks & Lotion – What a nice treat for the often forgot about feet.  Use jergens or another non girly smelling lotion just in case someone is particular about smells, toss in some cute fuzzy socks and you’ll be warming hearts as well as feet.
  15. Cocoa – A cup, chocolate dipped spoon, chocolate dipped marshmallows, chocolate dipped peppermint stick and you’ve got a sweet treat!
  16. Strawberries and Chocolate – After you’ve dipped your strawberries, place them in some mini cupcake liners, put in a cute Christmas box and you’ve got a sweet treat that is sure to impress!
  17. Candies in a Jar – You’ve seen it in Cracker Barrel and other country stores, talk about easy to make. Purchase some fireballs, m&m’s, reese’s pieces or other old fashioned candy and toss it in a jar, add ribbon and card and instant goodness! Did I mention fireballs?
  18. Fudge a little bit – I’ve never made fudge but hear that it’s really easy.  Pour it into metal cookie cutters or muffin liners, wrap and you’ve got a perfect little gift that is sure to please.
  19. Personalized Survival Kit – By personalized I mean things that the recipient will adore, personalized. For instance, one year the kids got their dad a survival kit, it included his favorites & things he uses often: Honey bun, Starbucks cold coffee, BC Powder, cassette tapes from the thrift store, tie (also from the thrift store), note pad, pens, Sponge Bob stuff, gum, mints, and other things that I can no longer remember.  Point is – everyone has little things that they love and adore, why not package it up and make is special just for them.
  20. Video One True Media will take your pictures and make them into an amazing video for FREE.  What a gift!  Have fun gathering up all the memories and preparing them for a video that will easily import over to youtube.

There you have it! 20 easy, peasy ideas that are sure to warm the heart.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that people will love the fact you took the time to put something together like this for them.

Enjoy Christmas and other times of gift giving without the unnecessary guilt, even times of simple laughter together is a priceless gift that will last for a lifetime.

May I add in one more?  A Bonus:

The Spreading Joy Daily book, pair it with a mug, Reese’s Cups or just a note will be a gift that keeps on giving. You will be empowering others to make a difference without breaking the bank.  It’s filled with practical ideas for each day and you’ll find that as you make a difference, your heart will be flooded with great joy!  (PS, all proceeds goes right back into making a difference for others….double the joy.)


Ohh, I almost forgot –  Giving chocolate dipped items is really as easy as melt, dip, decorate and package.


Many of these white chocolate bars or milk chocolate bars have their own microwavable dish so the cleanup is easy.  For about 10 bucks, you can get 2 blocks of these melting candies, package of marshmallows, pretzel rods, graham crackers or my personal favorite Nutter Butter Cookies, dip, sprinkle with fun and package for gifting.

I’d love for you to post pictures of what you’ve done over at our fan page –

Also if you have a link on easy gift ideas, please do feel free to share it below in the comment section so others can be inspired and encouraged!

Spreading Joy is as easy as sharing this article on twitter, facebook, pinterest or emailing to your friends.  Use the handy buttons below to do so.

Thank you for your efforts in Spreading Joy and making a difference!


Favorite Twitter Helps

By Far the best thing for Twitter

non techy gals twitter helps

Anyone that truly knows me, knows I love twitter.  I love the reach it has given me, I love the friends that I’ve made (yes, I said friends and yes…I do love them) and I love the encouragement that I receive there daily.  I love it.

I am on all the other Social Networks and you can use those buttons over on the sidebar to hit me up there, but if you really want to interact with me online, it will be better via twitter.   If you Tweet me, I’ll always reply….at some point.

So, what does a Non-Techy gal use to get the most from Twitter?  I’m glad you asked. :) I’ll share with you my favorite Twitter Helps.  These are in random order.

By the way, when you are experimenting with various Twitter helps, may I suggest that you try them for a few weeks and not just for a few days.  Tweet out questions about what you are using if you are just not getting the hang of it.  There are many people that will help you by answering your questions.

1.  Lists in Twitter – Start making “lists” now.  It can be titled anything. You can put your favorite tweeters in a group to make sure you never miss a single update.

2.  Tweetdeck – a Twitter Client that helps organize everything on One Screen

By Far the best thing for Twitter

TweetDeck – This is a Twitter must! You can have your @’s your dm’s and several columns all on ONE screen.  No flipping back and forth! When you are starting out, this is an easy way to categorize people into groups that appeal to you.  You can shorten links right from this page, send pictures, videos.  You can RT and edit tweets to add in your thoughts and comments.

It is available from a normal browser or you can download. I also have it on Google Chrome.

You need to check out the various things TweetDeck can do.   The real time update is amazing (no refreshing screens) when I’m participating in various Twitter chats or my absolute favorite… the Online LIVE Worship Service on Twitter… #Tworship.  (Click the link to see how to participate with us each week night.) I love the automation feature – I can schedule the songs and Invite people to JOYn us. You can setup your lists in columns as well as your favorite twitter chats to be individual columns and move them around as you see fit. The larger your twitter account gets, you’ll appreciate this easy way to keep up with your friends. Robyn from @RobynsWorld on twitter created a HOW TO that show how to set various columns, lists and hashtag chats in Tweetdeck.

Here are a few other places that help with scheduling, organization and such.

  • HootSuite – this is just like tweetdeck, with the exception you can link up your other Twitter accounts and when you post, you can have it go to all of your Social Media accounts at once, including Facebook and Linkedin.  If you are using the free version, you can’t add in Google+ but the free version is sufficient enough to cover your other accounts.
  • SocialOomph – Many features that I love like scheduling, replying and you can tie your blog here.  I don’t, but you can.  It is very user friendly.
  • Buffer – free version allows you to send out 10 posts a day.


Apps – there are so many apps for Twitter that do many different things.  Try various “free” versions, and if you like it – see if the paid version is even better.  – What apps do you use for Twitter?

Everything that I’ve mentioned so far is FREE for you to download and try.


Many have asked me how I’ve grown my Twitter account.  I’ll tell you.
 3. Growing your Account: 
Every day, I spend about 15 minutes following the people that I am on lists with.  If you listed me on a list, I would assume that the others you listed were in some way “like” me, so it made sense to follow them too.  (I have several lists and you can easily start with them as I feel like I follow the nicest, most amazing people in the whole world!)
People would follow back.  I did this for 2 years!  Saturday mornings, when I had more time, I’d spend a little more time and grew my account up to 19,000 followers.   I never would have imagined that I could be spreading joy to a thousand people, much less 19k.  Doing this manually isn’t awful and can be done quiet efficiently as you can see.  Being able to follow like people easily is actually available through several products.


4.  Need to easily find followers for your group or business? Here are some Free Resources for you:

You can go to and see who isn’t following back for free.
SocialBro – Great Follow Unfollow tool, community etc.
Social Bearing – Uses keywords and interests
May I caution you though?

5.  Have fun connecting with others

If you simply “grow” your account using Tweet Adder but never interact with those that you follow, you’ll miss out on some amazing friendships, wonderful laughs and some good times.  Think about it.  People like Oprah and others “stars” that only follow 20 people are missing out on some pretty cool friendships from all over the world.  I noticed that early on and wrote an article about it a few years back.  Even though it is a few years old, it still holds true today.   Click here to Read about the friendships I made early on.
My Favorite Twitter Helps....for you

My Favorite Twitter Helps….for you


6.  Lastly, here are some other Twitter helps You may Enjoy!  All Free!
  • Seesmic – Much Like TweetDeck
  • Twello – yellow pages of Twitter
  • Twitter Counter – lets you see your growth at a glance & some cool buttons
  • Nutshell Mail – Cool way to track groups, lists & is delivered to your inbox on your schedule
  • TweetReach – To see the impact of your tweet OR if you use the web, see who has RT’d you and say thank you
  • paper.liThis is an amazing app that collects “links” through the day and puts in a News Paper Format.  I have 3 of them and I subscribe to them all so that I can go back and read at my leisure each night.  The Spreading Joy Daily, The Praying Peeps Daily and the Praying Peeps2 Daily.  The SJ daily collects links from those I follow and usually has about 200 articles or ore.  The PP daily collects links from ONLY those on my 2 lists.  Awesome stuff!!


This is just a drop in the bucket compared to the things that you can find on Google or Goodsearch.  Remember, when you Goodsearch – good search for spreading joy and they will make a donation to us!


Ministry and Social Media working together? You betcha! and it works well.  The gals over at @StickyJesus will help you –  exists to equip you, the Christ follower, to confidently live out your faith in the digital world. We’re here to infuse biblical perspective and daily inspiration into your online time. We’ll help you grow your technical know-how so you can share the sticky love of Jesus Christ with others. We’re teaching, listening, and collaborating with a fired-up community of digital scribes about culture, social media, and the kind of relationship building that will outlive cyberspace. Are you in?


Here is the best introduction to twitter that I’ve seen in a while! – Intro to Twitter  Thanks @partyaficionado

Here is the best list of helps to Grow your Twitter Account – 24 Effective Tips to Grow Your Twitter Following Fast – Thanks Adam @adamjayc


To save you some time, here are a few links to a few pages that have hundreds of Twitter helps.

Free twitter tools –

Over 275 items here –

99 items here –

Here are some CUTE & FREE Twitter “Follow Me”  Icon Buttons

Also – Do you know Twitter has limits? Yes, they do.  Check them out here.

I do have an extra account on twitter, just in case anything were to happen – feel free to follow over there too.  @jailedJOY  I don’t use it much – but sometimes it’s necessary and sometimes, I just “play” there.

One last thing and probably the most important of all!!!

HAVE FUN…plain and simple.  

What do you think? 

What are your favorite Twitter Apps?  

Talk to me….I want to know!



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Another 50 Ways of Making a Difference

There is something deep within us all that knows it is better to give than to receive.

That is why my heart is always screaming “There’s NO joy like Spreading JOY!” Just like most people, this economy is killing me financially.  I can’t seem to get out from under the ever growing snowball of horror as far as getting ahead goes.  That does NOT stop me from giving and making a difference.  It’s what I do, always has been, always will be.

This need to give inspired me to write 50 Ways to Make a Difference Without Spending a Penny last year.  I’m honored to say that it has inspired many whose hearts have the desire to give, but their wallet says NO.  My goal with these ideas is to get you to a point that you are keenly aware of ways to make a difference. That you’ll recognize various chances that tend to pop up.   I want your heart to soar as you are doing what you can, where you are, with that you have. And, believe me – it will.

EVERY act of joy, regardless of what it is, has limitless possibilities.  You may never know just how far your selfless act of joy went.

It is my pleasure to present to you ANOTHER 50 ways of making a difference with OUT spending a single penny!

1.  Click on Ads when visiting web sites. – You are already there reading & the owner of the site makes some money off each click, so why not?

2.  Blog Comments – Take a few moments and tell the writer of the article if you liked or even disliked what was written. Feed back is always wonderful!

3.  If you shop USE the affiliate link of a friend! WHY not let a small percentage of your purchase help someone? Don’t know anyone? I know of 2.  Richard @mcProdigal & Brett @ChristianRep (click their NAME to be directed to their sites which has their Amazon link there!)

4.  Make every phone call extremely pleasant. Even the “Non helping” help desk calls.

5.  Post Links to Charity organizational events to your facebook wall or twitter feed. If you can’t donate a financial gift, donate your voice! Do it daily to help promote the event without being asked to.

6.  If you know someone is having a rough day, make a video encouraging them to keep going and email it or facebook it to them. I have received a few of these, and LOVE it!

7.  Donate  your used computer, projectors etc to someone that doesn’t have one.  May take some time to research it, but completely worth it. Many single mom’s would love NOT to have to go to a public library to use the internet.

8.  Leave a comment below with a way of spreading joy without spending a penny. ;)

9.  Establish a monthly “NO Chore Day” for your entire family. Mom – yes, this includes you too. Do something fun with that time. The dishes will wait for you!

10.  Invite a friend over for coffee, dessert and a fun time of chatting.

11.  Color with some children.  Color with YOUR children.  Don’t even stay inside the lines. Be adventurous and color outside the lines.

12.  Email this list to someone who has a huge heart but is without the financial means to make a difference.

13.  Turn off all lights when leaving the room.  (Mom’s all over the world will thank you!)

14.  Send an encouraging text to let someone know you were thinking of them.

15.  Give a HUG – my goodness, just do it! One size fits all, you can’t hug the wrong person and even if you are having an awesome day, a hug will just make it fantabulous!

16.  When making homemade bread, double the recipe and give some away.

17.  If you have someone’s Instant Message or Skype contact info, leave them a message even if they are off line. They will find it and be encouraged when they log on.

18.  Send Ecards to people in your email address book.  I love using and for this.  The possibilities are truly endless.  Go, encourage and email smiles!

19.  Recently read a book that you loved? Has a friend given you a book that they had published? Write a review and post it without being asked to on your web site promoting it.  Every bit of promotion helps. (I’m so far behind on this…I’m working on it!)

20.  Surprise your family with a HOT breakfast one morning, instead of the traditional quick milk, juice and cereal as they are running out of the door.

21.  Give kind words freely.  Honestly, after a day of “you didn’t accomplish this, you made a D on that test, you monthly projections were off by a long shot…blah, blah, blah” WE all need to hear more positive things that we did do.

22.  Be generous with the pat on the backs, the handshakes and eye to eye contact.  Positive reinforcement here!

23.  When my head is on my desk, don’t bother me. Honestly, there is reason.

24.  Share confidence! Remind others that they CAN do this. They are excellent at what they do. They are strong and will make it through.

25.  When you are sick with a head cold, don’t write. Just don’t do it. Spare us all the whinybrat ickiness and don’t write.  ok?  (LOLOL, that is a note to myself.  I currently have a cold and can’t think of anything to write here and am feeling kind of bratty!  Thus the “harshness” of #23.  I’m leaving this, but will do a for real #25 and stop writing for the night.)

25.  If you see someone in distress, tears or extremely emotional about something.  Even if you don’t know them, take a moment to smile and remind them that it WILL be alright.  Don’t make light of their situation, but do be encouraging.

26.   Return a favor – without being asked.

27.  Do not assume – Don’t do it.  What you think you might know isn’t necessarily the truth of the actual known fact. You just never know….you know?

28.  Wink at random people.  Make sure you pass along a huge smile too!

29.  Shake hands or some how, some way greet our wonderful Military personnel each and every time you see someone in uniform. Look them in the eyes and say thank you.  Make this a rule! I never pass up this opportunity.

30.  Take time to smell the roses.  You pass them in the store, you pass them in gardens.  Take the time to do it. You never know who is watching and how you will inspire them.

31.  Write a note for your child(ren) expressing how proud of them you are. Leave it on their pillow or put it in their overnight bag.  This is always fun for a lunch box too, especially if your child is young.

32.  Be forgiving today.  Bury the hatchet and let bygones, be bygones.

33.  SLOW down – so you won’t be grouchy! YOU know it’s true. When you are in a hurry every SINGLE thing gets on your nerves and you are grouchy.  (Pointing the finger at MYSELF!! I never do things slowly)

34. VOTE – Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

35.  Tell those that you love, you love them.  Seriously.  Go on….I’ll wait.

36.  Designate your company MATCH to Spreading JOY.  Many organizations will match your contributions 100 % up to a certain amount.  Here are some Corporations that match donations.

37.  Attend the party.  Seriously. You were invited. The Host is working hard at putting it together! YOU will make someone happy…so GO – – have fun, sit back and ENJOY!

38.  When singing in the car, LOUDLY, be aware of the feelings of others – if YOU are not alone.  ;) Make sure its songs they can sing along to.

39.  Phone calls – for NO reasons.  Love this.  Go ahead and make that call. You never know who you will encourage,  whose day you’ll make brighter and how that person just might have needed that encouragement at just that moment.

40.  Eat Dessert FIRST.  You will be a huge spreadingJOY hero to your family when you plan this.  Go all out – do ice cream in waffle bowls.  Have Reese’s Cup Pie (and invite me over) or Chocolate Cake with Chocolate frosting.  Have it first and have lots of fun!

41.  Celebrate your UN-Birthday with your family.  Make a cake from scratch, using basic ingredients from the pantry.  The fun, laughter and the fact that it’s your UN-birthday will have your home filled with great laughter and JOY!

42.  Use a gift card that you received for someone else! Wow. HOW selfless is this?  You’ll make a difference and it will not have cost YOU a single cent.

43.  Share your frequent flyer miles.  Do you travel alot? Have an abundance of miles racked up.  Offer a night or 2 at a hotel to someone.  Let me know that you would be a resource of miles for Spreading JOY.

44.  Do not wake up Grumpy.  Let him sleep. ;) (hahahahaha. Ok, that is as old as the hills, but still funny to me.) Seriously.  If you wake up grumpy, focus on others, think of the millions of little things that make YOUR life big and keep the ickiness to yourself until it passes.  We want to be spreadingJOY not spreadingICK.  Check out Confessions of a Cranky Gal.

45.  Host an afternoon Tea Party with your child(ren).  These will be cherished memories indeed. Before you know it, you’ll be attending the wedding of your princess.  Remember, PINKIES up!

46.  Be happy for someone else’s success AND help them, in any way, shape or form to be successful.

47.  Watch your words.  This reminds me of “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” yeah, you remember that rhyme.  IT IS NOT TRUE! Your words are powerful! They will leave a mark on people! Either positive or negative.  You get to choose!  Choose wisely!

48.  Help your child(ren) complete an act of joy every day.  Starting joyful habits at a young age will instill a kindness that will last a life time.

49.  Leave the mole hill small. Do not make a mountain out of it.  Trust me, you’ll face enough mountains in your lifetime.  Don’t add to it.

50.  End on a positive note.  I realize this cannot always be accomplished, but it is worth the effort.

51.  Leave a sticky note of encouragement on a few of your co-workers computer.  Don’t sign it.  Just do it.

There you have it! Another 50 ways of making a difference without spending a single penny.  I love this stuff.  Spreading joy has never been easier.

I know things are tough, but you are tougher.  You can make a difference, right where you are, with what you have.  Free your heart of guilt because you feel you can not make a difference.  You can.  Do one thing a day.  Just one.


If you loved this article then you’ll absolutely LOVE our book – Spreading Joy Daily!  Easy to read with ideas of inspiration for every day!  Men, Women and Children can do these things and impact others!  Click Here to Check it Out

What are your thoughts?

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((HUGS)) Yall

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What Makes You Happy?

A Daily Treat for Myself!

A Daily Treat for Myself!

When I treat myself, I love an extra hot Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte (sugar free) from Starbucks or a Diet Coke and Reese Cup.  These simple little things bring me great joy and are truly a treat.

Last year, I was looking for a journal (a treat for myself) and stumbled upon this cool desk calendar. 3,650 Things to be Happy About, by Barbara Ann Kipfer.  Being a lover of the million little things that bring joy to my day, I was intrigued.

One was opened, so I began to flip through it.  10 items a day, everyday. How very cool! Giggling with excitement, I decide to treat myself to this wonderful little treasure.  2 months have passed and I must say, it has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself.  I love tearing off the page, anxiously awaiting the next 10 things.

I have not always agreed with some of them, but that is to be expected as everyone does not like the same things.  And then, there are the things that I have to “good search” to see what they are.  (Sorry Google, Good Searching makes sense, as they help out my little non profit.) I have learned something new from this calendar nearly every other day! For instance, did not know what a Yurt was.  Go on…Good Search it, if you need to. I did.

I decided to try and list 10 things a day for a week to see what I would come up with.  Some have to do with things that happened on that day – others, are just random things that popped into my head.  Here they are in no particular order:

Monday: Full moon hanging on a cloud, Gel Pens, soft Kleenex, board games, belly laughs, waking to a kiss, cool sunglasses, soft carpet, Atomic Fireballs, White out.

Tuesday: American Flag, rolling fog, cute note pads, making cotton candy, cloud shapes, Hot chocolate with marshmallows, Handwritten notes, roller coasters, forgiveness, Reese Cups with a Diet Coke

What is Wrong with this picture? It would be better if it were a BIG Cup Reese Cup!

Wednesday: Cute Socks, Chuck Norris Facts, Free Books, Puppies, Statue of Liberty, heart dangle earrings, unconditional love, hot soup, cute purses, lightening bugs

Thursday: Watching my children sleep, Anticipating Christmas morning, huge sliding boards, Ringling Brothers Circus, itouch, Animal cookies, listening to rain, Long lingering HUGS, Hope, Blue Roses

Friday: Little Debbie Cakes, homemade lemonade, reading poetry, Old books from the thrift store, Service Men & Women, Breakfast for dinner, Choices, PB&J with Glass of Milk, Disney Classics, hot peanut butter cookies out of the oven

Saturday: Toddlers that ask millions of questions, Being safe in God’s arms, Singing loudly in the car, Sitting sideways in overstuffed chairs, quotes, Falling asleep listening to the ocean lap against the shore, Watching my kids make the right decision, reading poetry, Policemen & Firefighters, Riding with all the windows down in the car

Sunday: Coconut Cake, Having the Bible ready available in hand or online, Universal Studios, Unsweetened Iced Tea, Monkeys on anything and everything, See sawing with a friend, Blowing Bubbles, Cute adorable socks, m&m’s, handmade bracelets

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.–Henry Ward Beecher

These are just a few things that make me happy.  What about you?  Can you list 10 things a day that make you happy, so that at the end of the year you’ll have your very own 3,650 things to be happy about?  What about listing 10 things a day that are simply happy things?  For example, spaghetti dinners do not make me happy, as I do not like any form of pasta.  But – being at the spaghetti dinner with smiling friends and getting warm hugs – now…that is happy stuff.  See what I mean?

If you blog, I challenge you to list 10 happy things a day, blog it and then link back here.  I’d love to read it as well as share it with others!

If you don’t blog, consider listing your 10 happy things a day for the week in the comments below.  It will be wonderful to see the things that make YOU happy!

Again, I ask – What makes you happy?


All Because One Child Cared

Jonathan David Massey (my very cool nephew) & Me

Jonathan David Massey (my very cool nephew) & Me

I have the Greatest nieces and nephews in all the land.  The youngest nephew, Jonathan, recently did a little thing for me.  He told his teacher about Spreading Joy Corporation and how we help people.  In his mind, he was just telling her about how his Aunt Marie was making a difference.  What he didn’t realize was that he was actually doing something huge and giving me an opportunity that I may never have gotten myself.

After meeting with his teacher, the preparations start. I want to introduce Spreading Joy Corporation to them. I want them to know what we do, what we’ve done and what we want to do! What our hopes, dreams and desires are.  I want them to know that we’ve had goals and fallen short of them, but we weren’t feeling guilty about it because we simply did what we could with what we had.  More than all of that, I want them to walk away empowered, feeling like they can make a difference. I want them to see and KNOW that there’s no joy like Spreading Joy.

I only have 30 minutes to speak to them and know that I have so much more than that to say, but am prepared to make it work. After introducing Spreading Joy to them, I quickly run through our accomplishments (article on that soon to be published) explaining to them that while we didn’t reach the individual goals we set, we were not feeling guilty.  We simply did what we could, with what we had and used that to make a difference.  I fill them in on New Year of Hope (NYOH).  Explaining where we were and that we needed $802 to deliver HOPE to Dwayne and his 10 year old daughter Diana. Oh, I can’t wait to deliver this. 

Lincoln Charter School - Middle School Students 2010

We spend much of our time talking about noticing and appreciating the little things that truly make life big. I’m a lover of the million little things in life that make my heart smile.  While I’m sharing this, I hand out Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies.  The first guy to receive this Chris, wasn’t sure about what I was doing and offered it back as I was walking away.  I smile and told him to keep it, it’s what I love doing. My favorite thing to give out is Reese Cups, because they are my absolute favorite! But, Little Debbie makes is affordable to give sweet smiles.  While I’m “spreading joy” and passing out some of my favorite things, I want to remind everyone that holding the door for others, smiling at everyone, letting someone ahead in line and a whole slew of other “little” things make a huge difference. 

Middle school children do not have a lot of resources financially, but they do have huge hearts, creative minds and the power within themselves to make a huge difference.  We talk about a few of the 50 Ways to make a difference with spending a penny.  The list was printed out for them. I’m hoping that they will be inspired to start spreading joy from that.  I also tell them I want 50 more ways to make a difference for free and ask if they would consider sending in some ideas.

After giving Jason Lott a few of the “little things that make his life big”, I call 4 people (Tols Detmer, Thomas Butner, Madeline Tilley & Sabrina Twery) from the group of kids. Give them a “joy pack”.  This is not a gift for them to keep, I ask them to choose someone to give this to, someone that could use a little joy that day.  They are spreading joy heros.  They give freely, happily and everyone is hoping to be chosen. Are the bags huge gifts? NO. Remember, it’s the little things. 

The 4 heros come back to me after spreading joy.  I thank them for not grumbling, not whining and doing such a great job.  They are all smiling, standing there empty handed.  I’m hoping that their hearts are soaring because they just did something amazing!  Before I let them sit down, I give them a little something, more than what they just gave away – but still, little things, because I want them to know, first hand, little things are amazing!  I want them to realize that they (the huge hearted kids)  have the ability within themselves to make a huge difference.

So, what really happened because one little 11 year old boy cared? Well, let me tell you!

Spreading Joy was able to:

  • Enjoy the snow while talking to one amazing teacher over delicious coffee
  • Give away 300 joy packs of candy with our information attached to it.
  • Joyfully hand out and throw into the crowd 10 Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies
  • Give away 6 yummilicious, simply the best treat on the face of the earth Reese Cup – Reese Eggs
  • Give away 9 packs of lip gloss (with 8 different kinds in each) I think
  • Give away 4 packs of fingernail polish (with 7 or 8 different kinds each)
  • Give away 3 $10.00 McDonald’s gift cards
  • Give away 3 boxes of a beautiful necklace set
  • Give away 9 books (I love giving away books)
  • Speak to around 200 middle school kids with HUGE amazing Hearts! (and several Amazing teachers too!)

And….imagine with me, for just a moment, if you will.  If those 200 individuals tell one other person, JUST 1 – that will be 400 people hearing about Spreading Joy Corporation for the first time. And – if that second set of people tell 1 other person, then we are up to around 600 people hearing for the first time. 

So, Jonathan, you amazing Spreading Joy hero – do you see how the “little” thing of telling 1 person, has made a HUGE difference? I hope so.  I hope others will too.

What did I get out of all of this?  Oh, yes, new people heard about Spreading Joy. Yes, I enjoyed presenting my passion to the school – they were attentive and fun to talk to! But more than that, the hugs, the laughter, the smiles, the bright sparkly eyes – from realizing that “hey!!! I can make a difference, right here – right NOW!” filled my heart with so much JOY, I floated through the rest of the day! I was literally flooded with great joy from the response of the children afterwards! Warm, receptive and their minds were already thinking of ways they could make a difference!  My heart was completely overflowing as I was extremely blessed by simply being able to hear their comments as they were heading back to class.

This Little Blue Bunny has a HUGE place in my heart! Thank you Jason

So, when you think that giving a little blue bunny is something small – ohhhh…THINK again!! HUGE!! Huge Spreading Joy Hero there!! I love this guy and someone with a HUGE heart was kind enough to make my day and give him to me!

When Reese Cups are on sale, buy one, get one free….Get them, give one and discover how AMAZING you feel when you are instantly transformed into a Spreading Joy Hero! Chris, the first receipient of the Little Debbie Cake, surprised me with an amazing treat at the end of the presentation! Thank you for the wonderful Reese Cup! It was fantabulous!

There is nothing like being flooded with great joy when you see, first hand, the little things that make life big!

Thank you Lincoln Charter School for having me at your wonderful School!  Thank you Ms. Paula Micol for inviting me to present my passion for making a difference. Thank you Jonathan, for being one child who cared and acted on it – and made a Huge Difference!

Holding Pure Joy! Thanks Chris!

The question goes out to all who read this:

Have you ever considered for one moment, what telling just one person could do to help spread the word about Spreading Joy?  Do you see the amazing difference that just one person doing so has created? 

Who will you tell today?  Will you be a Spreading Joy Hero and spread the word about Spreading Joy? 

Thank you!

Thank you for making a huge difference, right where you are, with what you have, leaving the guilt behind – because you are truly making a difference!

Confessions of a Cranky Gal

Completely made me Laugh Out Loud!

Friday morning in January….the alarm goes off, ugghh…I groan. 4:30 already? Mercy.  I hit the clock, drag myself out of bed and start the day.  It’s Friday, I should be excited.  Few more hours and the weekend will be upon me, right? Wrong!  Normally the super silliness you see here is just me.  While I am and can be completely serious when necessary, I love laughing, smiling, cutting up and just loving each and every moment that I can.

I’m not sure what is going on, but I feel anything but happy.  I start getting ready and as I normally do, spend time in prayer while getting ready.  Someone is on my heart that day, so I pray, specifically for them. Normally this would lift my spirits, but it doesn’t.  I head out the door to work. No music, no nothing, just feeling cranky.  I realize this and decide to keep my ickiness to myself.

A few hours pass and I’m diligently working through the day.  Trying not to focus on the growing crankiness within my heart.  A friend calls. “Morning!”, they say – “how are you today?”  Before I even realize what I’m doing, I laugh out loud and confess “I’m pretty cranky today, how are you?”  My friend laughs and we talk for a bit.  Then the friend realizes, wow, she’s not kidding. I admit, no, unfortunately I’m not kidding.  I don’t know why, but I’m pretty cranky and what’s worse, can’t shake it.  We talk for a few more moments and say our goodbyes.  My co-worker laughs and admits that she didn’t even know I was cranky, that I had hidden it pretty well.  I apologized and said I was trying not to be spreading crankiness and I’d keep working on it because no one should have to deal with cranky Marie.  I wasn’t even really trying to hide it, just didn’t want to “share” the crankiness and bring down the “TGIF” mood. You know what I mean?
Finally!!! Lunch time! I knew what needed to be done.  I clocked out for lunch, sent out a tweet that said:

Just Keeping It Real!

I got in my car and headed over to a near by Wal-Mart.  Trying to figure out what to get and for whom.  I knew that I needed to do something for someone – to get rid of the crankiness.  I check ubertwitter to send out a few tweets while I’m walking through Wal-Mart.  What I saw made me laugh so hard, out loud and in front of everyone.  Gene sent a reply that simply said:

Completely made me Laugh Out Loud!

With that belly laugh, I feel the crankiness slowly start lifting. Laughter truly is good medicine!  I see the perfect thing; Little Debbie Cakes.  I LOVE unwrapping smiles and so will the people I give these delicious treats to. I purchase them and see a few more replies about my crankiness.  I respond thank you to Jarrell who said “Keep raising those arms & waving hands & praising God.” Then to Catie who said “Don’t be cranky!! Here’s a hug! *HUG* hope it makes you feel better :]” and trust me…it Did make me feel better.  More crankiness, slowly oozing away.  Then I respond to Angie and Katie who both sent more HUGS, knowing I ADORE hugs.  Lastly I reply to Barbara who said “Feel better lady joy!” and head over to Subway to get a sandwich and Peanutbutter cookies for lunch.  I smile and give every Subway worker a Little Debbie Valentine Brownie and wish them a wonderful day. I send out a tweet about what I had just done.  I smile.  I noticed more crankiness oozing away, “nice feeling” I think to myself.  I’m walking through the parking lot, pull 2 cakes out for my team and then proceed to give the others away.  “I love spreading joy”, I happily think to myself. “Does a heart good!”

I get into my car and check ubertwitter to send out a few more thank you’s and WHO do I see?Why, it’s Little Debbie herself – Saying:

I LOVE unwrapping Smiles

At this point, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning!  “OH my gosh!  Is this real or is this a bot?” I’m giggling out loud to myself.  So I ask and they reply that sure enough, they are the real deal!  Wow! As real as rain!  Some how, knowing this and the fact that the person I had been praying for much of that morning had said that the day had started out difficult, but was getting better, simply just made my day.  Those few simple, yet extremely important things helped to get rid of the crankiness.

Next to giving out Reese Cups, giving out Little Debbie Cakes is one of my favorite things to do.   They are delicious and very affordable, as well as always bring a smile!  I do love unwrapping a smile!

The moral? Am I always spreading joy? No, just ask my kids or husband or for that matter my little sister, Angie.  Can there be an easy fix to it? It’s not always easy, but I’m telling you – from experience, I know that if you’ll FORCE yourself to focus on someone else for awhile, the crankiness will leave you.  It has no choice but to run for the hills!  There will be no room in your heart for the crankies.  The joy you get from giving, even something small, will NOT leave room for the crankiness in your heart.

Don’t believe me?  Next time you are cranky, spend approximately $3.00 on a couple boxes of Little Debbie Cakes and just give them out to random people with one of your amazing smiles.  Then, after you have given them all away, come over here and describe the joy that has just flooded your heart and pushed out the crankiness.

I dare you!

I can’t wait to hear from you on what you do to get rid of the CRANKIES!

Sending {{HUGS}} of gret JOY!

I Refuse To Let This Recession Kill my Spirit of Giving!!

No, I’m not kidding!

This is hitting closer to home now. Since the beginning of the year my husband’s job has been at 32 hours a week. Well, Friday he calls me and says that they are now going to an every other week schedule. OUCH! So what is a giving heart supposed to do?

Plan ahead!

Christmas is coming, birthdays are right around the corner. Even if it is $10.00 a week, start your list and go ahead and make those purchases. My goal is to have all of my Christmas shopping done before the end of September. I will let you know how it goes.

College is this fall as well. Thankfully there is a nearby K-Mart who still has lay away. Towels, wash clothes and anything else I can think of are on lay away so that those needed items won’t break the bank upon entering college.

Graduation – If you are planning on giving a nice gift to that graduate of yours, start putting back now. This will allow you to tuck a nice little bit of “green” in your favorite graduates card.

Yes – A recession is the perfect time to give. You will motivate and encourage others to give. You will make a difference in the life of someone who probably needs it more than you could ever know. No matter how bad things may be for you right now – there is always someone who is in a worse situation. A recession is filled with opportunities to make a big difference and not have to spend a lot. How is that possible? Well, I’m glad you asked!

A recession is the perfect time to give because:

1. You will not have to look far for someone in need. There is probably a family on your street that could use a little bit of help. Instead of your family going out to eat, get a gift card – give it to the family down the road (even if it is for McDonalds) and enjoy a night at home with your family playing games and feasting on hot dogs. What about that co-worker that never, ever ever goes out to lunch. You know who they are…invite them to lunch with you. Tell them you are buying and you won’t take no for an answer.

2. Your little bit will go a long way. Any “little” thing you do during this economy will be greatly appreciated! I always appreciate everything that comes my way, but if I know someone is pinching pennies – then that always means so much more! You know it is sacrificial and more importantly, it comes from the heart. Even the box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies that you gave out one by one – put a smile on the face of someone and made their day. (If you’ve never done this, you should try it! It is a great feeling to just walk up and hand out an oatmeal pie to a total stranger and simply walk away.)

3. Words of encouragement cost nothing but have the greatest value. Knowing that you are not alone with certain problems helps so much. It truly does. Why do you think support groups and online forums are so popular? We need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and these types of groups remind us of that. When people are in different stages of the same type of journey, those that are “out front” can remind those that are behind that it will get better. Things do work out – you just have to be patient. We can see that there is hope just ahead. So, what are you waiting on? Send that note, type out that email – encourage someone today!

4. A positive attitude is contagious! Is yours worth catching? So many people are discouraged and are struggling just to make it through the day. Your positive attitude and helpful spirit can help carry several people through what just might be a horrible day. Even if you, yourself are going through a rough patch, you can still be positive and happy. Smile at everyone you come in contact with. Look at each new day as a chance to have a positive impact in the life of someone near you.

5. Giving what you have the most of – TIME. Many people in the Hollywood scene will donate thousands of dollars to their favorite charity (and let me say, I’d love to have a Hollywood Star have Spreading Joy Corporation as their favorite charity – I’m not even going to deny it!) but they don’t often give much of their time. You may have the opposite problem – more time than money. So, give your time. Are you a quick book pro? Are you great with talking to complete strangers? Are you free for a few hours everyday while your children are in school? Think about how you can donate your time to make a difference.

Giving during a recession just makes sense. Many people (including myself) struggle with the fact that they can’t make a HUGE difference and simply decide it is just not worth it. Just keep working through the recession. Keep giving something to someone every day. Don’t worry about what it is, how big it is or if it will save the world. Just get yourself in the habit of giving and you’ll be shocked at the amount of joy your heart receives back.

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.” Albert Einstein

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