My Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Yes, I realize that I didn't send my well wishes before the holiday, so please accept my apologies.  I do hope that you all had a wonderful time.  I was so thankful to have this time off and have the opportunity to spend time with both sides of my family.

I don't have any photographs to share *gasp*; however, I did make a little video to commemorate the celebrations.

For those of you who have time away from work this season, I do hope that you are able to continue enjoying the rest of your holiday.  I, for one, am trying to make the most of mine and cramming everything I've been depriving myself of for one long time - cleaning, organizing, decorating.  Soon come!

Seasons Greetings,

The "Secret Santa" Serenade

It's been a few years since I've participated as a Secret Santa at the workplace.  Over the years, the price requirements have changed, but as the daily price amounts have lowered, it just means you have to be a bit more creative.

When I pulled the name of the recipient of my gifts, I was excited because I felt that I could figure out gifts for her.  Unfortunately, I was preoccupied at the moment, and shortly after I pulled her name out of the bucket, I lost the slip of paper that revealed her likes and dislikes before even reading them.  (As much as I've cleaned my workspace, I have yet to lay eyes on that beloved paper.)  I knew then that I was going to have to start snooping and listening intently to pick up some clues.

The price limit was $2 for the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday gifts and $10 for the Thursday gift.  Since my coworker has already received her gifts, I can feel free to post them here.

Secret Santa #1

Pardon me for forgetting to photograph the gift before wrapping it, but it is a wall calendar showcasing a beautiful horse for each month.  My co-worker is a true animal lover and is looking forward to bringing her horses from her previous residence to her current one.

Wall Calendar - Dollar Tree
Total Cost {$1}

Secret Santa #2
My coworker has a tropical bird and two mastiff dogs.  I purchased two large dog chews and placed them inside of a wine bottle holder that was handpainted by a parent of a student I taught many years ago.  I don't drink wine, but because it was handpainted and beautiful, I didn't know what to do with it, so I kept it.  But, since my co-worker has a bird, I figured she could store his food in the container.  I wanted to purchase some food for the bird too, to make up for the $1 I didn't spend on Monday, but I didn't know what type of bird she had.  I later found out that she has a macaw.  In the end, my co-worker used the wine holder to store the birds toys in and used the chew sticks for the bird as well.  Apparently, he likes them!

Dog chew sticks - Dollar Tree
Total Cost {$2}

Secret Santa #3
For the third day of Secret Santa, I wanted to help my co-worker in the kitchen.  Because she is diabetic, I wanted to give her something that she would enjoy and also make her cooking a bit easier.  My neighbor has a huge rosemary bush in her backyard.  I asked for a few clippings and she sent me a bag full!  Then, lo and behold, the oregano I planted finally started growing this fall, so I clipped some sprigs of that too.  Both were bound with some red satin ribbon.  They accompanied a wooden spoon set that I had purchased at IKEA maybe a year ago.  (Back then, I bought several sets for future gifts.)  Then, I found a roasted chicken recipe for the slow cooker using those ingredients.  Finally, I printed a free Christmas printable from Pinterest and framed it.  My co-worker was so excited that she dug out her slow cooker to make the recipe this weekend!

Fresh herbs - free
Wooden spoon set - IKEA
picture frame - Dollar Tree
Total Cost {$2}

Secret Santa #4
My final gift for my co-worker was a Christmas stocking filled with a Bath and Body Works shower gel and lotion set.  I found the stocking during a random visit to the Habitat Restore.  It was brand new and high quality!  The stocking was a sample from Lowe's and all Christmas items were 1/2 price.  Oh my goodness, it is so soft and plush.  As for the smell goods products, Bath and Body Works has these semi-annual sales and one-day sales a lot.  I have gotten in the recent habit of purchasing sets on sale for future gifts.  I had this scent on hand, but I made sure to let my co-worker know that  she could take the items to the store and exchange them for a preferred scent.  (She later said she was fine with the scent because she was so used to smelling horse poop that honeysuckle was a welcomed change.)  I forgot to get a traditional Christmas card, so I hand-wrote her a note inside one of my winter photography cards letting her know how wonderful she is.  She gives so much to others that I felt she should at least be able to pamper herself with a bubble bath and smell-good lotion.  :-)

Stocking - $4
Gel & Lotion Set - $8
Total Cost {$12}

I had such fun making these gift items for my co-worker.  I know I went over by $2 on the last gift, but technically, it was only $1 since I only spent $1 on the first day.  It was a joy seeing the joy on my co-worker's face.  For me, it just goes to show that your gifts don't have to be mega expensive.  Instead, it really is the thought that counts and finding or making something that means something to the recipient.

As for my own Secret Santa, I received 2 bars of milk chocolate on Day 1, some delicious creamy hand lotion from Bath and Body Works on Day 2, a glam journal with stickers on Day 3, and for Day 4, I received a 3-piece gift set from Bath and Body Works (shower gel, body cream, and body spray).

Merry Christmas,

Hello World

As of this moment right now, I can begin to see a flicker of light at the end of a very long tunnel!  I'm not finished for the semester, but by God's grace, I will be soon.  December 6 is literally just around the corner....

Counting down the days until Christmas Vacation as well.  I  saw this video on what it's typically like for teachers during the final days leading up to a holiday.  I thought it was so hilarious.  I literally did L.O.L.
That Moment When: Holiday Edition
That moment try to get something done before the holidays. #teacherlife
Posted by Teacher2Teacher on Friday, December 4, 2015

But in the meantime, I've been using my investment - the Erin Condren planner, to help me see the pieces of my life.

Until then,

I've Been Featured: Moldmaker

Bonjour, mes amis!

As you can tell, I am not utilizing my blog space as frequently as I have been in times past.  Many of you know that I've changed job positions (new school, new grade, new curriculum) and I'm in grad school as well.  What you may not know is that I'm carrying 12 credit hours this semester (and next) because I'm working on a joint degree.  One part should be over in May, then I defend my portfolio, and receive an additional license.

It has been quite the sacrifice, but when I take a moment to think of all that is transpiring and whom I may be encouraging along the way, then I know that it is worth it.  Recently, I had the honor of being interviewed by The Scholar Vlogger as the first Moldmaker in her "Moldmaker Series."  If you're interested, feel free to stop by her blog and read the post.  It'll give you a little heads up into what I've been up to.  And if you choose to leave a comment, please leave it on The Scholar Vlogger site.  :-)

My interview on The Scholar Vlogger.
Later gaters!

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken {A Taste of India}

Hello lovelies!

I'm not sure what it is, but lately I've been having a taste for Indian food.  If I could have a wish fulfilled right now (concerning Indian food, that is), I'd love to eat at the Curryblossom Cafe.  My cousin hosted a baby shower there, and let me tell you, um um good!  Plus, I love Vimala's philosophy that no one should go without food because they cannot pay.  Food is a human right.

Meet Vimala.

Now, nothing I cook will light a candle to what Vimala prepares, but since I can't go there, I will make do with trying dishes at home that satisfy my taste for Indian cuisine.

This time I tried a new dish in my crockpot.  It's a butter chicken recipe that can be found HERE.  I love all of the flavors and despite the name "butter chicken," the flavors are totally different from what I imagined.  When I thought "butter chicken", my mind went to savory flavors, like what you would taste from roasted chicken.  Totally different!  Just imagine the flavors of coconut milk, and curry, and garam masala, and so much more.

Here's a video of me preparing the dish.  (The first part of the video is a joint birthday party for 3 little ones.)

 Bon Appetit,

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you for all who participated in the eyeglasses giveaway.  And now to announce the winner.

Drumroll please.......

Congratulations, Jessa!  (If you haven't already, please check your email.  Your prize code has been sent.)

Thank you again for everyone who participated.  I hope you have a lovely week ahead.  And thanks again, to for allowing me to host one of their giveaways.

Easy Home Makeover Tips {Guest Post}


 If you need to work on remodeling your kitchen, as well as living room or any other rooms that need work around your home. You will likely need to have some help to pull it off, so you will need to look for information either online, through books or other sources. In the end however, you will need to work on proper planning before everything. The following guidelines will give you some clues on how you can make things work:
  • Before you start you will need to consider how you will use any given room and how often that will be. You should do your best to consider what kind of layout you want for your home to have as well before you move on with your actual project. Analyzing the situation you have ahead of you will let you take advantage of any tips in said places so you will need to work on your priorities. A good example of this would be to consider the number of people you live with, as their presence will dictate how everything works. If you live alone, then you can put a simpler look for your home as it will allow you more open spaces you can work with. Collaborating on the job with any family members you live with will give you a much better idea on how you can figure out the details.
  • You will need to focus on a nice list of research and the right budget so you can figure out the smaller details of the job. Finances are a serious deal, so you have to be as careful as you can be to avoid going overboard with the expenses you will need to face. Use common sense to work on this, as overshooting the budget could be a terrible mistake you could make that would make it a lot harder to deal with any subsequent tasks that need doing later down the line.
  • If you have a specific project in mind, then you should look for professional help to make it happen. Unless you have a wide variety of skills with renovation tasks that require your entire attention, then you would do well to look for people that know what to do with such projects. You will need help so you can find out more before you jump onto whatever needs doing. You will also need to work on proper home cleaning, such as carpet cleaning, kitchen cleaning and upholstery cleaning for all your rooms just in case.
  • Repairing and updating the bathroom is a really important renovation approach you have to undertake. Update the room with some modernized looks and renewed looks so you can make your faucets, lights, grout and other smaller details of the job work well. You will not need to spend too much money on the process, but you can still make a real difference if you’re careful enough.
  • Improving the curb appeal of the home is also a really important task, but it will take some doing if you need to make it work. The first impression a home makes will make a difference, so you will need to consider both the aesthetics and the practical side of the job ahead of you. It will be a much easier thing to take care of renewed areas than having to make things anew.

 Read more home maintenance tips at:

Guest post by Ella A.

The Better to See You {Giveaway}

Earlier this year, I was contacted by Firmoo to review a pair of their eyeglasses that they would provide for free.  I selected a pair of black and light red frames and I couldn't be more pleased.  If you recall from my post to reveal those frames, I mentioned that I seriously need my glasses.  Seriously.  Nearsighted.  Astigmatism.  Yep, the works.

Well, I'm pleased to announce that I was contacted once again by Firmoo to extend the offer to you.  Now, you too have an opportunity to win a free pair of Firmoo frames.  Prescription frames!  Now, if your eyes are like mine and you need some extra bells and whistles, then you'll have to pay for those, but if you can make due with the standard 1.50 index single vision lenses, then for you, it's absolutely free!  (I ended up paying $9 but in my opinion, that was a well-spent $9.)

The giveaway will run for a week, so make sure you look at the giveaway details and enter.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Organizing the Kitchen Décor {Guest Post}

Organizing the Kitchen Décor

A messy kitchen is no place for a cook. If you pride yourself one, but you do, in fact, have a messy kitchen, then you should definitely either rethink your title as a cook, or do something about the chaos. Organizing the kitchen is much simpler than it may seem at first, so do not get daunted by the perspective of entering that den of havoc and starting to put an order to things. Nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it, and this applies at the very least to kitchen cleaning. Here is some advice on how you can achieve the best results.

Taking out the rubbish would be the thing to start with. There must be plenty of things you do not need in the kitchen. Work on getting rid of them. Make use of big plastic waste bags, pile inside everything you do not need, then take it to the trash or recycle bin. Now focus on the things you do not need, but are not willing to throw away. De-cluttering is the key to a clean and organized kitchen, so think hard about what you actually want to keep here. Is that old pan you never used really necessary? How about that frying pot you see once in a blue moon, should it take space in the cabinet when you can use that space for something more useful? Make a pile of the things you have no use for and remove them from your kitchen. Surely you have a special place in your basement, cellar or attic for something like that.

Now continue with some cleaning. Clearing up the kitchen is not as hard as home cleaning, so instead
of moaning, you could have already gathered the mop, sponge, cloths, and cleaning products you need. Start using them and go top to bottom – you do not want to redo all the floor or carpet cleaning you did just because you decided to push all the dust and dirt from your counters and shelves on the clean ground. Go wild with the cloths – preferably microfiber ones, as they are proven to be among the best cleaning tools nowadays – and scrub away to a spotless kitchen. And do not forget about oven cleaning – you do not want your future meals to smell of all the grease accumulated there, right?

Once done scrubbing and rinsing, focus on placing everything back in the cabinets and shelves in an order that will not impede your finding anything you need in the future. A good idea would be to free up even more space with some space savers like racks, shelves, and stands for pans, pots, spices, and herbs. Now you can place essential things in the cabinets and drawers and will not have to worry about not having any space for them.

If you need to, redecorate the kitchen by moving things around – nothing too complex, whatever suits your needs when cooking. And after that, the organizing is complete. That was not that hard, was it?

Article granted by Ella A. on behalf of:

Monday's Feature: Tina C. Williams, Author & Poet

Meet Tina C. Williams, Author and Poet.

AE:  Who are you and what is it that you do/make?    
TW:  I am Tina Clarice Williams.  I am an entrepreneur, an attorney, a cybersecurity professional, and now a published author!  I grew up as a military brat and have enjoyed living in and visiting many countries and observing many cultures.  I have been an avid reader since I was a toddler, and love playing sports, especially soccer!  I currently reside in Maryland.

AE:  How did you get started/What is the motivation behind your work?  
TW:  The story of why I started writing poetry is rather amusing to me, and ironic.  As I was writing poems to capture my authentic feelings, I was doing so to make it look like I was taking copious notes in class!  My rationale was that writing poetry to stay awake was better than the alternative: dozing off!  And so, here we are!

This book contains a compilation of poems I have written over the course of approximately 16 years.  I went through my journals, emails, scratchpads, napkins, and notebooks to find these poems, and then selected those with which I would actually proceed.  This process mirrors the process of my life so far; not everything is meant to make it to the final product, but all pieces are a part of the process.

Most of these poems were written to be spoken – spoken word – so as you read, perhaps read aloud, allowing yourself to hear the passion and the conviction in your own voice.  I hope you are inspired!

AE:  Where can we find your work? 
TW:  L.I.F.E. is currently available as a pre-order release: 


If you know me by now, you know I love supporting budding entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Check out Tina's work.  Go ahead.  Be inspired!

Peace & Love,

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Beef {Recipe}


Let me preface this post by saying, this dish was sooo sooo good!

Ok.  Now that that's out of the way, let me begin again.  I've been longing for a taste of something very flavorful.  Not necessarily spicy, but just flavorful.  And that's what I love about so many ethnic dishes (different from the dishes I grew up eating; they are flavorful in a different sort of way).  So...of course, I perused through Pinterest and found a dish that sounded perfect for me.  Plus, I wanted a slow cooker dish so that I wouldn't have to spend a terrible amount of time creating it.  I found, a farmgirl's dabbles' Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Beef recipe.

You can visit her site for complete instructions, but I'll provide a pictorial view of the creation of this dish.

 * The original recipe calls for this dish to be cooked on high for 4-5 hours.  I chose to cook mine on low for about 7 hours (I cooked it overnight) and then on high for an hour or so after I returned from work.  I also had to add additional salt to the dish after I had shredded the beef and cooked the remaining dish on high.  Superb!