Christmas 2014

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas season, especially in spite of all the viruses and bugs going around this season.  I was definitely one of those under attack for this whole month of December (and still trying to recover)!  But thankfully, I started to feel a little better the Tuesday before Christmas, so I was able to drive my mom to her mom's to spend Christmas there.

This was the first time in quite a while that we were there on Christmas Eve.  My uncle was there too and he and my mom prepared almost the entire meal.  My grandma made a couple of vegetables, but was oh too glad to turn the kitchen over to two of her children.

My mom and uncle thought that they had cut back on the food, but when they were done, they realized that they still had cooked way too much.  Thankfully, my uncle always brings a case of take out containers and everybody made additional plates to take home with them.  And my mom always travels with a cooler to bring my grandma things from our area and also to take things back to our extra Christmas dinner.  :-)

And now what you're waiting for...loads of pictures!

Boiled Cabbage
Corn Muffins
Spicy Mac and Cheese - Recipe here 
Pork Roast

The Day after Christmas...we stopped to visit my dad's side of the family in another city.  Below is a picture of one of my uncles and one of my cousins.  We were at my cousin's house.  And there, we ate their Christmas leftovers and a piece of gluten-free pound cake.  :-)

I was glad to see them for the holidays.  So how was your Christmas?

p.s.  My Macbook was dead for a month and because of exams and sickness and the fact that the closest Apple store was almost 2 hours away, I had to wait until right before Christmas to be fixed.  I have missed it so much.  Thank goodness I have it back.  :-)

Christmas 2014 Dining Room Tour


Christmas is almost here!  This year I decided to do something a little different in terms of decorating in my home for the holidays - I decided to create my first real tablescape!  I've seen plenty of tablescapes over Pinterest and YouTube.  They are so beautiful, and well thought out, and in my humble opinion, kind of intimidating.  So many layers and layers of decorating goodness.  But I put my fears aside, looked through what little table decorations and table setting items I had and tried to create something new.

As I mentioned before, I started looking on Pinterest to see what styles were beautiful to me.  Then I realized that the color scheme that I initially wanted wasn't going to work with the walls in my dining room.  They aren't my favorite, truth be told, but until I am able to do something about them, I'm going to embrace them.  And so that's what I decided to do.  I decided to go with the traditional Christmas colors of red and green with accents of gold because I thought they would play nicely with the golden undertones of my knotty pine walls.

I decided to purchase a few items, but most of everything in my dining room decor was either given to me at some point, thrifted, or purchased on a real serious budget.  And that's okay.

I'll admit, decorating this corner of my home was really fun, and I'm seriously considering making it a seasonal habit.  We shall see...

I think one thing this seasonal decorating project has shown me is that you can make any place special no matter how humble your abode or the budget that you have.  And that's one thing to keep in mind as you look for a new home.  As you browse through the neighborhood guide at Urban Compass, be sure to keep your mind and heart open to all the wonderful dreams that can become yours in whatever space you choose to call your home!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas,

Having (my) Say...the finale!

Hello all,

So here is the finale to the Having (my) Say series. If you missed the first two parts go here and here.

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At the end of the last part, I mentioned that I did have my final interview and site visit from the Teacher of the Year selection committee for the regional rounds.

I was told that it might be January before I found out anything, but the selection was able to be announced right before our holiday break began.  In the end, the committee chose the other candidate to represent my region, so my TOY process has come to an end.

Initially I was a little sad about it, plus it didn't help that I was in the bed sick on the day I found out and I knew that I would have to go to a school board meeting that evening to receive an award for being a finalist.  But, I knew that I had done my best and that was comforting.  And although I wasn't initially thinking of it this way, one of the judges reminded me that making the finals meant that I was in the top 16 of our state.  It's all in how you look at it.

I have learned a lot about myself during this process.  It was a totally validating experience to say the least.  Not often in your career do you have the opportunity to know how others feel about you as a colleague, or as their teacher, or as a teacher of their child.  In this process I was able to find out how valued I am in my workplace.  I am thankful for all the support that I have received throughout the process and I believe that even making it this far will be the beginning of new and wonderful things to come.

Now, unless there are future surprises that I don't know about, I can focus on my job, my graduate studies, and on getting better.  Yes, right after all of the wonderful things came to a close, I have been stricken with the cold of my life.  Three weeks and still trying to recover...

Thank you all for being there on this journey with me!

p.s.  I got two A's in my classes this semester.  Stoked!  :-)


Having (my) Say Part II

If you missed my Part I of "Having My Say", please visit here before reading the rest of this story.

So, picking up where I left off, after winning the Teacher of the Year (TOY) for my district, I then had to start the process for the regional TOY.  There was a new packet of information to complete.  Lots of essays, letters of recommendations, and a professional headshot.  Completing all of this was an intense process, and I will admit that my mother and I pulled an all-nighter in order to meet the deadline.  I hadn't pulled one of those in quite a while.  As for the professional headshot, I made a quick phone call to a friend down the road who worked as a photographer in his former life. Thankfully, he had all of his equipment and could get me a picture to submit.

Prior to the regional interviews, I had time to prep with a former teacher.  We discussed issues in education, interview techniques, and shared lots of teacher stories.  Then she gave me her favorite teacher pin that she had had for her career.  So sweet!

On the day of the interview, back in October, I dressed according to their specifications, and wore a new hairstyle.  I felt calm right before the interviews and I felt good about my answers.

The next day the selection committee interviewed the other half of the interviewees.  There were 12 of us (from 12 different counties) in all for my region.  The committee would select the 2 finalists.

I was expecting to hear back in November to see if I made the first cut, but two days after the interview, I received a phone call at work to let me know that I made the finals!

While I was teaching, I was surprised by a guest from the district office and the admin at my school.  They came in bringing balloons and a new bouquet of flowers.  It really caught me off guard because I had just found out myself only about an hour before hand.

Because of making the finals, the selection committee would visit my school for an entire day, observe a few of my classes, interview administrators, teachers, students, parents, and me - yes, another interview.  That day was on yesterday.  I felt that same sense of calm that I felt before the previous interviews.  I will say that I had a blast today!  No matter what happens, I can't think of anything I would have changed, and I know I did my best.

Now, we just wait.  I think the deadline is January.  :-)

Until then,

Home Office Reveal

It's been a long time coming, but finally my home office project is complete!  What started out as a "den of sin" (lol) has turned into a neatly organized, and deeply purged, space.  Even though I normally plan out the decor of a space before I get started, for this space, I literally started with a paint color and everything else just fell into place.


But seriously, this was the real before.  YIKES!!!!
(too shameful to even upsize the photo - lol)


I hope you enjoyed this tour!

One Productive Saturday

There's no substitute for plain rest.  Period.  This week, I was able to get lots of rest.  I started feeling so much better and because of that I was also able to be more productive during the work week.  In fact, that good feeling spread into the weekend.  Saturday was such a beautiful day.  One of the main reasons why I enjoy this season so much is because of the beautiful foliage, and Saturday's view didn't disappoint me.

Although my contractor has been unable to return to my home to finish up the bathroom makeover for a little over a week now, due to illness, I had the rare opportunity to return there and work on some much needed projects!

First, I started by cleaning the kitchen:

Then, I spray painted and reupholstered the chair in my home office (speaking of which, my office is finally finished and now I can do an office reveal post!):

Then I finally started my first tile project.  Yes, I used the leftover mosaic tiles to tile the mirror I found at the Habitat Restore for $5.  This mirror is going into my bathroom.  I need to clean it up and then grout it (after I figure out how) and then it'll be good to go:

I haven't had a Saturday like this past Saturday in quite some time, and truth be told, it felt soooo good to get some projects done.  Now, I'm just dreaming of the rest of them.  :-)

Here's the video of the day in case you want to see some spray painting and tiling and such in action!

So what about you, how was your weekend?  Any projects brewing?

Thrifted Sweater Challenge

You already know I love thrift shopping, but this time I went for the purpose of shopping for sweaters for the fall/winter season.  HouseofAqua, issued a challenge on Youtube for participants to go to their local thrift stores and look for sweaters.  I decided to participate in that challenge.  Truth be told, I had just returned from a sweater thrift shopping trip and so the challenge came at the perfect time.

I purchased all my sweaters from Value Village.

Here is the video I linked to her challenge.

And here are the sweaters I purchased.  In total, I spent $39 and some change.  If I had to do it over, I would not have put back that Land's End trench coat for $13.  What was I thinking!

(Please accept my apologies in advance for these cell phone pics.)

Do you shop for sweaters at thrift shops?  If you decide to purchase any thrifted items and post about it, please let me know.  I'd love to see what you discover.

Happy Thursday,