About Mary Stromberg

Posts by Mary Stromberg:

How To Write A Thank You Note

Gestures of gratitude are slowly fading from our world. When a girl receives a compliment, she will make excuses as to why she doesn’t deserve it. When a man holds a door open for a lady, she eyes him suspiciously. If someone gives us a gift, we might go so far as to give them a hug. The point stands: we don’t say thank you like we used to.

What happened to the days of “thank you kindly, good sir” and “I appreciate the gesture?” In our world of tweets, texting, and lol’s, we don’t take the time to really give thanks to the people in our lives. Thank-you notes are a simple way of showing gratitude. Here are a few tips on how to write a thank you note.

When to Write The first problem I run into is knowing when is an appropriate time to send a thank-you note. Do you have to write a ton of notes after your birthday? What about when someone pays you a visit? After your wedding, I guess? What about job interviews? Don’t worry about it. Thank-you notes should be as generous and spontaneous as the thing you’re giving thanks for. If someone obviously put thought, money, or time into something for you, be willing to do the same for them. Giving a card for every gift you receive may seem overwhelming, but just remember the effort those people put into giving you that gift. Thank-you notes after a job interview are meant to show the potential employer that you appreciate their time and attention. And the fact that you don’t take anything for granted shows your strength of character, no matter whom you’re giving the note to.

Picking a Card I keep a few types of thank-you notes in my letter drawer at all times. Some of them are fun with polka dots, some of them are fancy and engraved, some are full cards, others are just small notes. This way, depending on the situation, I have an array of options. If you just want one type of note for any occasion, I suggest a plain white notecard with a simple, elegant, but fun design around the borders or at the top, complete with an elegant envelope. You can find these at any bookstore, Office Max, or greeting card aisle.

What Do You Write? I always get hung up after the words “Thank You for _____.” But, after some research and a lot of help from this site, I’ve discovered just what to say after those three words. What do you like about the gift? What are you thinking of using it for? What does it remind you of? Don’t forget to compliment their thoughtfulness. Finish with something along the lines of “sincerely yours,” “thank you again,” or “best wishes.”

How Do You Write? Use of formal language is always appreciated in a thank-you note. Be overly generous in your thanks, so as not to leave the reader with any doubt that you really appreciated their gift to you. Plus, when else are you going to get the chance to use phrases like “To My Dearest Bathilda…?”

Packaging The Envelope is the first thing the receiver will see, so make sure it’s nice and pretty. Using their full or formal title, such as “Ms. Gladys Opinger” is generally accepted. If you’re not mailing the envelope, you can either leave it unsealed or close it with a cute sticker.

Giving the Note If at all possible, try giving the note in person. This way, you can thank the receiver in person and leave them with a reminder of your gratitude. Don’t wait awkwardly for them to open the note, though. Just tell them what it is, thank them, and let them open it in their own time. If you don’t have a way of getting it to them in person, go ahead and mail it. But don’t tell them it’s coming ahead of time, they’ll be more pleased if they weren’t expecting it. Have you ever received a thank-you note unexpectedly? Have you crafted any cool greeting cards lately? What’s the most awkward “thank you” you’ve given or received? Share your story in the comments below!

8 Reasons You Should Be Using Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel is magical. Ancient sources say it was used by witches to heal all sorts of remedies; hence, the name. Native Americans used it as a staple healing item, and your ancestors probably wouldn’t have looked nearly as good without it.

Modern science is determined to undermine my belief in Witch Hazel’s magic by labeling it as an “astringent.” It tightens skin tissue, which allows it to heal faster.

You can find this little solution in almost any drugstore for under $5 a bottle. Once you have it, here are eight ways you can use it.

1. Clear Up Acne

This is the number one reason I use Witch Hazel. The moment I see a spot pop up on my face, I get out a cotton swab and Witch Hazel and dab that sucker. The Witch Hazel not only heals the pimple faster, it also keeps it from itching so you’re less likely to scratch at it and make it bleed.
You can also use it as a preventative measure. By soaking a cloth in Witch Hazel and wiping your face twice a day, most breakouts can be prevented.

2. Make Your Eyes Shine!

If you have the tendency to wake up with bags under your eyes, just soak a cloth in Witch Hazel and water and press it under your eyes for 10-15 minutes. This works great in reducing puffiness after crying too!

3. Heal Bruises

If you’re clumsy like me, you’ve probably got more than a few unsightly bruises on your arms and legs. Just dab a bit of Witch Hazel on the spot with a cotton ball or soak it with a cloth dipped in Witch Hazel a few times a day, and the bruise will be gone in no time.

4. Stop Bleeding from Nicks and Cuts

Honestly, I use Witch Hazel for this all the time. I’m always hurting myself in little ways. Seriously, I got a severe paper cut from putting away files the other day. For this, I dip a cotton swab in Witch Hazel and press it over the bleeding area until it stops, then dab up any extra moisture with the other side of the swab. It’s the quickest, easiest, most sanitary way to deal with annoying little cuts.

5. Smooth Bumps

You know those little bumps you get on your legs after shaving or waxing? Yeah, Witch Hazel can fix that too. Soak a cloth in Witch Hazel and water and place it on the affected area. Even if the bumps don’t completely disappear, the Witch Hazel will at least soothe them and make you feel better.

6. Prevent and Reduce Razor Burn

Before going in the shower, rub some Witch Hazel on your legs and it should prevent that rash you get from shaving. If not, just put a cloth soaked in Witch Hazel and water on your legs afterwards, and the rash should disappear completely.

7. Soothe Bug Bites

Good for mosquito bites, spider bites, and other nasties, just dab a cotton ball dipped in Witch Hazel on it a few times a day to to reduce itchiness and swelling. Personally, I live in a place where there are no bitey bugs, but let me know if this one works for you! I’ve read it’s one of the most effective uses.

8. Moisturize Skin

Witch Hazel locks in moisture, so if you apply it right after showering, it will keep your skin soft and smooth all day long. You can even use it on your face, since it’s all-natural and not oily, it will make you glow but not shine.

Do you have any other uses for witch hazel? Stories? Magical fairytales? Comment below!

5 Recipes With 5 Ingredients Or Less

I love trying out new recipes. I have an entire folder on my computer dedicated to wondrous desserts I plan to bake. But I haven’t even made a dent in my sugar-filled list. Why? Because there are too many ingredients to buy.

I hate grocery shopping. Every time I buy food, it’s either gone a week later or sits in my cupboard for months. Plus, money. So when I see a new recipe that requires protein powder, marshmallows, or twix bars (which I should keep on hand, but don’t,) I never get around to actually making it.

My solution? Simpler recipes. You’d be surprised by how much you can do with just peanut butter, sugar, and eggs. Check out these 5 simple recipes with 5 ingredients or less.


1. Safe-to-Eat Sugar Cookie Dough

1 1/3 cups and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1-2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes until light, fluffy, and pale yellow. Mix in flour and vanilla. Add water one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each, until you reach cookie dough consistency.

Source: Willow Bird Baking


2. Old Fashioned Potato Candy

1/2 cup leftover (preferably homemade) mashed potatoes
5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons Peanut Butter (approximately)

Put mashed potatoes, vanilla, and salt into a bowl and add one cup of powdered sugar at a time, while kneading with your hands until mixture becomes a firm fudge-like consistency. You may need a tad more or less of the powdered sugar depending on how the mashed potatoes were made. Make adjustments depending on the texture of the mix, you’ll want it to be firm & dry enough to keep its shape but not too dry that would cause it to crumble.

Divide the mixture in half, sprinkle work surface & rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll the potato candy into a 1/4 inch thickness. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on top, about 1/4 inch. If you use too much it will squish out the sides when rolling it up.
Gently roll into a loaf and cover with plastic wrap or wax paper and chill for at least 1-2 hours hours before cutting into 1/2 inch thick slices (approximately 12 per loaf).

Source: Wenderly


3. Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Cream the peanut butter and sugar in a bowl. Beat in the baking powder, and add the egg. Mix until it is all well combined.

2. The dough will be sticky, so be prepared to get your hands messy. Roll some dough into a ball. Roll the ball into white sugar. Line a baking sheet, covered in parchment paper, with sugary balls of dough. Flatten the balls with the back of a fork in a criss-cross pattern.

3. Bake in the oven for about ten minutes. You will know the cookies are done when they feel coherent, but still a little soft. Take the tray out of the oven and let the cookies rest for at least five minutes. Afterwards, carefully transfer them to a cooling rack. After ten minutes or so, they will have hardened and be glistening with sugar.

Source: The Daily Green


4. One Minute Peanut Butter Cake

1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 heaping tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons peanut butter


In a small bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, baking powder, peanut butter and flour. Pour batter into a greased ramekin (or coffee mug). Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove cake from ramekin (or don’t), pour frosting over top if desired.

Source: Back to Her Roots


5. Banana Ice Cream

Peel and slice ripe banana. Put in freezer for an hour or so. Put frozen slices in a blender or food processor and pulse until it goes from crumbs to smooth and creamy. Mix in some peanut butter or chocolate chips for extra flavoring!

Source: The Kitchn



5 Steps To Budgeting Your Money

It’s happened again; you just went on an epic shopping adventure, got a bunch of cute clothes, went out to dinner with some friends, and now you’re completely broke. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “if I had a budget, this would never have happened!” But if you don’t know the first thing about budgets, where do you start?

Below are five steps for budgeting your money, from the before you get it to the moment you buy that awesome pair of boots you’ve been wanting for months.


1. Know where the money’s coming from.

First, you have to know how much money you have. How much is in your checking or savings accounts? How much do you get on your paycheck? Figure out, as close as you can, how much money you get each month, from where, and at what times.

2. Know where the money’s going.

Next you need to understand where your money is currently going to. Track your spending for a month and categorize each transaction according to what you buy.

For example, you could separate everything into the categories of food, clothes, home supplies, and cash withdraws. If you’re a student or require things for work, make another category for work/school supplies.

3. Determine where you want your money to go.

Now, decide what you want to do with your money. If you want to save up some money for a car, or you need to pay off your student loans faster, or you’re not putting aside enough money for rent, then you need to make the firm decision to cut back spending in other areas to make room for more important things.

4. Get down to business.

Now it’s time to make the actual budget. According to how much money you have, how much you normally spend in different areas, and how much you need to set apart, write up a set of limits for each area. For example, you could decide to spend only $250 on food each month, that’s a little more than $50 a week.

5. Set up a system

Now you need to set up a system to track your spending and let you know if you go over budget. You can use a spreadsheet, if you know how to use Excell or a similar program, or you could buy a home budget program like Quicken that automatically tracks your spending.


Here is a sample budgeting spreadsheet. To use, enter your bank account balance on the first of the month then add every transaction you make into its proper category. The rest is calculated automatically.

Congratulations! Now you know how to budget your money! Comment below to let us know if it worked for you!