Friday, December 25, 2015

Currently December


Wishing:  Everyone a happy holiday season.  This is the season for giving, and spending time with family.  For some, this is a time of sadness.  Here's hoping everyone is having a good one. 

Remembering:  My boys when they were little.  I recently came across some pictures of them when they were toddlers and oh the memories began to flow..  They were the cutest little things and I really miss that stage in their lives.

DecoratingI waited till the last minute to get a tree this year.  The big, pretty ones were all gone when I got there, but I picked out this little cutie and gave her a home.  The boys and I always decorate the tree together so she had to sit under the garage a few days until they arrived home from college.  Nothing beats a real tree for Christmas.

Sending: Out my Christmas cards.  I couldn't find a decent picture of the boys and I this year, so I opted to just order regular Christmas cards.  I have to make sure to take more pictures of myself with the boys this year. Even if it drives them crazy.  

Celebrating: Time with family and friends.  Christmas vaca is in full effect!

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Simply Me December ~ Christmas Edition

Merry Christmas everyone!  Wow, I can't believe I'm saying that! Christmas really crept up on me this year!  At the moment,  I am recovering from the all the fun we had last night.  I hope Santa was good to all of you!

Today I am linking up with Liz from Sundays With Sophia for her Simply Me series.  

It's Christmas today, what are your holiday traditions?
To be honest, we never really had a holiday tradition until recently.  Growing up, my parents and I would always decorate the house and I would always be the first to wake up to start opening up gifts.  When my boys came along, we also would decorate the house together.  We would all wake up and open gifts together.  Special to us, but may just seem simple to others.  Over the past 10 years, our family began spending time together for Christmas Eve.  We all meet, in my hometown, at my cousin's house.  We play games, exchange gifts, eat, drink, and be merry.  Its a fun time had by all.  Okay, I began this post weeks ago and as time has passed more memories are coming back.  I forgot about the Christmas parties that my father's job would host each year for the children of the employees.  We would get together to watch a movie, visit with Santa, and receive a toy.  It was fun to get together with the other kids for the day.

Do you decorate the house?  What about those stockings?  Do you hang those?
I do decorate, but simplicity for me is the key.  We always put up a tree and typically go out to get a live one.  My boys and I decorate the tree together.  Stockings...Yes!  For a few years we did not because I didn't have anywhere to hang them.  Our current home does not have a fire place and I couldn't find a decent place to hang them from.  Last year, I improvised and used command hooks to hang them.  Things are back to normal now.  

What did you want for Christmas?  (If you post after Christmas, tell me if you got it)

You may not believe this, but I don't ever really look for much for Christmas.  Its all about the boys for me.  My joy is in giving!

What was the best Christmas gift you received?

The one thing I can remember is receiving a leather coat my senior year of high school.  I had my eye on this coat for months and was so excited when I got it.  Also, the year or two before, I received a gold, herringbone necklace.  It was one of my most prized possessions.  

Did you have everything you need in life?  

Did or do?  I would say as I was growing up that I did have everything I needed in life.  Now, there is a lot more to life for me to receive.  Most of all...I have family!  ;)

Well that's about it for me right now, tell me a little about you.  How are you spending your Christmas?  What fun and exciting things have you done in the last 24 hours?  No matter what we all have received or given, we must truly remember that Jesus is the reason for the season! God Bless!

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Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Spread

Tis the season for gift giving and gatherings.  Looking for a quick and easy treat for your next holiday party?  This salted-caramel, cream cheese spread would definitely be a hit! 

I was introduced to this delicious treat a few months ago when a friend bought it to one of our many gatherings.  When I saw how simple it was to make, I knew I had to give it a try. 

All you need is a block of cream cheese, some caramel sauce, and toffee bits...I prefer Heath.   It goes well with apples and crackers, but you are free to try what you like. 

  •       8 ounces cream cheese
  •       caramel sauce
  •       toffee bits
  •       sliced apples, and crackers for serving

1.      Place the cream cheese on a serving dish.
2.      Pour desired amount of caramel sauce over cream cheese. (Can be heated first)
3.      Top with generous amount of toffee bits.
4.      Serve with sliced apples and/or crackers.

Only 5 minutes to prepare and serve.  You can't get any simpler than that.  It’s so easy and so delicious, you will wonder why you hadn't thought of it sooner. I know I did.  It's the perfect treat for any holiday gathering.

Do you have a quick and easy recipe that you would like to share?  I would love for you to do so in the comments below.

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Thank You Notes: Blogger Appreciation

I can't believe that December is coming to an end and Christmas is only a week away.  Time is flying and I can't seem to keep up.  I am looking forward to spending time with my family and friends and would like to take some time to share with you a few things that I am thankful for this week.  More particularly, a toast to other bloggers who have touched me and helped me along the way.

Thank you Dean of Mrs. AOK for hosting Thank You Notes and for being the supportive friend that you are.  Dean is one of the kindest persons I know.  She has a heart of gold and is willing to share it with others.  The love she has for her family is immeasurable which can be felt as you read through her posts.  I'm so glad our paths crossed at Bloggy Boot Camp.

Thank you Michelle for being the youthful, fun-spirited, wine lover that you are.  I have learned so much from reading your blog and have been blessed to have met your presence.  Michelle and I communicated online for a few months and I can honestly say that I felt a close bond growing.  Then one fateful Sunday afternoon, we met in person and enjoyed an afternoon of food, fun, and laughter.  You can learn more about Michelle and her family on Grammie Time so stop by and tell her hello.

Thank you Jennifer for sharing your beautiful gift of photography with the world.  I lose myself in the wonder of nature whenever I view her Photo Friday posts.  But don't limit yourself to Fridays, Jenn has so much to share all week. She is a fellow educator who has a passion for capturing the great outdoors with all of its wonder.  You should check out her great works of art over at Pierced Wonderings.

Thank you Holly for spreading so much love and kindness through your heartfelt actions and for passing on these great characteristics to your children.  Holly exudes the phrase spread kindness around like confetti.  I don't know how she does it, but I think every waking moment of her life is spent bringing more good into the world. We need more people like Holly in the world and she truly inspires me to want to do more...While I'm Waiting.

Thank you Tiffany for being the voice that caught my attention early on when I first began blogging.  Tiffany is a keep it real, girl-next-door type of blogger who is so expressive yet is a tad on the shy side.  I first ran across Tiffany through the Bloggy Boot Camp Facebook page for the upcoming conference we were preparing to attend last year.  She is such a trouper sharing her experiences with us via her blog, TheMrsTee, and her vlogging. You should check out her YouTube page here.

There are many others I could name, but wanted to express my gratitude to these lovely ladies for all they do for me and others and for this I say Thank You!

What bloggers inspire you and have helped you along the way?
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Friday, December 11, 2015

Top Ten Gift Ideas For Your School Counselor

One profession that is constantly overlooked during this time of the year, are School Counselors. We see our teacher cohorts receive gift after gift and over the years for us, its pretty hit or miss.  I've seen several post on cute ideas of gifts to get your child's teacher so I thought it would be nice for you to have a list to refer to for school counselors as well.  When it comes to buying gifts, sometimes you really have to know the person.  Without asking a lot of questions, I'm providing you with a few ideas that would make the perfect gift for child's school counselor.

1) Tissue, tissue and more tissue.  I can honestly say that receiving boxes of tissue was one of the best gifts I have every received as a counselor.  It was the start of a new semester and without even realizing it, I was down to my last box of tissues.  A new parent was registering her child and asked to speak with me.  She needed to share some sensitive information, so I would know how to best work with her child.  During the session, the mom started tearing up and when I handed her the tissue box, it turned out to be the last tissue in the box that she pulled out.  I went to my cabinet to retrieve another box and quickly realized I was out.  I apologized to her and our session ended.  The next day when I arrived at school, the mom came in and introduced me to her child and also handed me a gift.  The card attached stated, "What's a counselor without these?"  I opened the bag to find a 3-pack of tissues.  As I thanked her she stated, "A counselor isn't a counselor if they don't have tissues."  I thought this was one of the sweetest things I've ever heard and I still remember it today.  Whenever I run low on tissues, I instantly remember what she said and smile to myself.  I don't think this parent realizes the lasting impression she made with me.

2) Pens and Highlighters.  Who doesn't love pens!  I know I do and the smoother they write the better.  Everyone loves pens and I know this well because they keep disappearing off my desk.  I find that I have to put my pens in a drawer or in my bag if I really want to keep them.  This has helped out over the years.  The same goes for highlighters which are so needed in my profession.

3)  Ink and Printer Paper. Now, one would think that these things are supplied to us by our schools, but this is not always true.  With budget cuts, ink and paper are a commodity to any educator.  In order to purchase the ink you would have to know what type is used with their printer so you can either ask or have a fellow coworker of their's find out for you.  Counselors use a lot of paper so any amount will do.  Colorful paper is always a dream.

4) Sticky Notes and Notepads.  The cuter the better.  I am a sticky note queen.  I used them for everything.  I put my To Do list on sticky notes and as I complete a task, I throw it away.  Why notepads?  I'm a counselor, why else?  I think that's a given.

5) Lysol and Hand Sanitizer.   I think you can figure out why these made the list.  Working in a school means working around germs.  When the cold session arises, these little babies really come in handy to keep the germs at bay.  I'm sure you would appreciate it if you had to come in for a visit.

Now enough with the school supplies, lets get to the really good stuff.  

6) Peppermints or gum.  To keep our breath fresh of course.  You may be coming in to talk to us and the last thing we want to do is offend you.  Such an inexpensive, yet nice gift to receive.

7) Subscriptions, Classes or Conference Fees.  Now this one may be a tough one and you may have to personally ask about this.  Receiving confirmation that you have paid for a subscription to a counseling magazine, upcoming class fees, or paid for a regional or national counseling conference/training would be the icing on the cake.  Can you see how this would put a smile on our faces?  Again, these are not necessarily paid for us with school funds.  We have to pay out of our own pockets to receive the necessary trainings to maintain our jobs.

8) Movie Passes.  Now who wouldn't love these!  Opening a card and finding passes that I can use towards any movie of my choice would be a great way for me to have fun over the holiday break.

9) Gift cards!  Gift cards are probably the best gift to get for anyone.  My favorites would be to a book store so I could purchase books to use for my classroom lessons or with my small groups.  Maybe I will finally buy a book to enjoy for my own personal enjoyment.  School supply stores like Staples or Target so I can purchase the items listed above.  Restaurants are always good to receive.  I know these have come in handy after working long hours and not having the energy to cook.  Nail salons or spas so we can pamper ourselves and feel good.  If you really know your counselor, you could get them a gift card for activities they love to do.  If you enter my office, you can instantly see that I love to paint.

 So, a gift card to my favorite paint and sip spot would truly be ideal!  The one I frequent  most is Bottles N Brushes, but there are plenty in the area to try.  I also love trying new recipes so a gift card for a cooking class would be an awesome treat.  Charleston Cooks, in downtown Charleston, is one of my local bucket list items to try.  And with all the stress we deal with, a gift card to a local spa to receive a massage would be right up my alley.  We, counselors, take on the stress of our students and having someone to knead out the knots in our body would help us to keep doing what we do.

10)  Water, coffee, tea, and wine.  These are all very palette moistening treats that would make great gifts indeed.  Water is just so essential to keep our bodies healthy, plus with all the talking we do, it  helps to keep our throats from going dry.  Slap on a bow and a cute little tag and that's all you need!  Coffee or tea are great for getting that morning jolt of energy needed to start our day or for an afternoon pick-me-up to sustain us till the end.  And after a long day of work, to be able to come home and pop the cork on a nice bottle of wine can be the best thing to relax us as we prepare for a good night's rest.

These are just a few things that I feel will make great gifts for a School Counselor.  I'm sure you can see how helpful these would be and how they would make our holidays Merry and Bright!  Did you remember your child's school counselor this holiday season?

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Voice - My Favorite Quotes

Do you watch The Voice?  If you don't, you should.  It is a show where contestants as young as their teens come on and showcase their voice for a chance at stardom.  The judges or coaches for this show, do not see the performances.  They are in a chair that turns around only when they hit their buzzer for the contestant to be chosen for their team.  This gives each contestant a fair chance to be judged only on their talent...their voice.  Hence the name of the show.  To find out more about the show you can read about it here.

I have watched every season of the voice and I love the whole concept behind the show and the idea of each contestant being mentored throughout the entire process.  The coaches are phenomenal.  Since the show aired, two have stayed consistent... Adam Levine, lead singer of  Maroon 5, and country singer Blake Shelton.  The other two spots for coaches have revolved over the years.  Christina Aguilera began the show with Cee lo Green.  Then Usher and Shakira, Gwen Steffani and Pharrell have interchanged a couple of times with Gwen and Pharrell being the current coaches along side Adam and Blake this season.

I want to share with you the unique things some of the judges say.

 Pharrell is such a powerhouse of a producer and I just love him and all his creativeness.  Here are a few of his quotes:

Madi is a beautiful, 16-year old harmonious Pharrell
Jump out the window with me, you're not going to fall...Pharrell speaking to Ivonne to get her to open up more during practice.

Some other unique quotes, from the coaches, throughout the length of the show follow.

Adam about Braiden's performance...the youngest in the competition at age 15..."It was like at that moment a rainbow came shooting out."

The harmony was like candy in my ears."  Gwen Stefani speaking of the battle between Chance and the duo Andi and Alex.

"I could listen to both of you all day long.  You're so delicious." Gwen speaking of the battle between Madi and Amy.

"Jordan, you are a freak of nature..." Gwen

"Jordan, we refer to your affectionately as the unicorn, because I think it is a profound experience for someone to hear you sing."  Adam

"This kid can do anything..." Blake of Braiden Sunshine.

"You took a risk, and did something bold...I want that version of that song in my life...You should be so proud of the artistry involved in that." Adam to Amy Vachal.

"You're treating this like its your stage and it is every time you get on it..." Blake to Emily Ann Roberts.

"Your spirit is just so big and beautiful and honest..." Gwen to Mark.

"Mark did his thing.  He's a storyteller when he sings." Farrell

"Keep thinking that you're not cool, because that is what's so cool about you.  The fact that you are so unassuming about nailed it!" Blake to  Korin Bukowski

"Sometimes there's so much about the world that can be so confusing and so sad, and then you come along and make us all feel like there's a lot of hope.  Thank you Jordan."  Adam to Jordan Smith

I hope now you can see why I am such a fan of the coaches on the show.  If I had people in my corner, speaking positive about me, and guiding me along the way...I know that what ever I'm setting myself up to do is going to be fine.  The encouragement of these artist is phenomenal and it needs to be acknowledged.  So if you enjoy good music and wish to have your spirit lifted, then take a look at The won't be disappointed! 

What's your favorite reality TV show and why?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Thank You Notes: Holiday Gatherings and Joyful Challenges

Another week has past and it is now December.  Where does the time go?  With each passing moment, it's good to take time and share what you are thankful for.

I'm thankful for my 88 year-old grandmother who is still in her right mind and able to spread her wisdom with me.

I'm thankful for family fellowship.  I meant to take a picture of everything before we started eating, but was too busy socializing, but that's not a bad thing.

I did manage to take a picture of my plate.  Doesn't everything look delicious?  It truly was!  :)

I'm thankful for new additions to the family.  I introduced Ari when she was a month old and look at her now.  Baby Charles is our newest addition and they both are such a joy! Aunt Barb is a happy grandma!

I'm thankful for unexpected happy mail!  Don't you just love it?

I'm thankful for bloggers who remind us to be thankful.  Be thankful by finding joy in the little things.  Takisha of Everyday Nesbitt is hosting a 31 Days of Joy challenge.  Join us over on Instagram by sharing pictures of things that bring you joy.  

What are you thankful for this week?  Join me and others and link up your thank you notes with Dean of Mrs. AOK.

Check out my Linking Up page to see where I'm sharing this post.

My Top Christmas Songs...Soulville Style

I don't know why its so hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit.  Maybe its the 70+ degree weather we've been having lately.  Maybe its the fact that I can go to work in the morning without a jacket on.  Maybe its the fact that I can sleep with my ceiling fan on low because the house is warmed throughout the day from the warm weather.

During our Thanksgiving festivities,  my cousin wanted to watch the Hallmark channel, but was out numbered by the rest of us who wanted to watch "regular" TV.  I just couldn't bring myself to watch any Christmas specials.  Although, I've been singing the Baby It's Cold Outside commercial featuring Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. I love the little jingle and that was all the Christmas in me for the moment.  I'm no bah humbug or anything, but it's really not looking or feeling a lot like Christmas around here.

This afternoon,  I went to Marshall's and as soon as you enter the door you are faced with all of their Christmas specials. So after I found the umbrella I needed, I began to wander around the store, humming a tune or two of Christmas lyrics.  Yikes...the bug is starting to get to me!!!

After posting to my usual weekly link parties, I came across Rosilind Jukic's post about her top 5 Christmas albums.  That little bug started stirring in my ears as I began to read her post.  The next thing I know, the sound of Silent Night by The Temptations  began to buzz in my head and I began to think of my favorite Christmas songs.  So, I've decided to share with you my own Christmas playlist since that bug just won't let go of me.

Three of my favorites that aren't pictured here and for some reason I cannot get on Amazon are:
Let It Snow by Boyz II Men
Someday At Christmas by Stevie Wonder
Please Come Home For Christmas by Charles Brown

So there you go.  That little Christmas bug has gotten me into the spirit.  It was nice listening to some of my favorites as I was writing this post and now I think the spirit of Christmas is in me for the season.  What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

See where I'm Linking Up to share with others.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wino Wednesday ~Various Reds

It's Wino Wednesday (yes I know I'm a day late) and I was so ready to introduce you to a new wine I had saved just for the holidays.  I sampled it at a friend's wine tasting party earlier in the year. I enjoyed the taste and decided to purchase/order a bottle through a vendor from California and was really looking forward to sharing it with my family for Thanksgiving.  When the festivities began, everyone partook in the sangria that our younger cousin had made.  It was so delicious, we didn't need anything else with our meal for the day.

Later that evening, we began to enjoy some red wines, so a decision was made to hold out on my introduction until the next evening when it would be time for a first cousins evening of fun. I am sad to say that I never had the chance to share the experience of this delicious tasting bottle of Panache Lane Flamboyant.  Unfortunately, someone gifted themselves with it because the bottle was missing the next morning.  I was a little upset about this at first because I couldn't imagine someone taking it without asking the hostess...but life goes on.

Such a cute design!

Luckily, I took a few random photos of the reds we enjoyed on Thanksgiving evening so that's what I will be sharing with you today.

There was a red for everyone's enjoyment.  We began with a sweet, dessert wine...Rosa Imperiale, which paired well with the brie cheese dessert I made.  Did I mention we were having so much fun that I forgot to take a picture of it?  Well, it was delicious!  I baked a 16 oz brie covered with cranberries and walnuts.  It was similar to the one I'm eating tonight, except this one is made with apples and cinnamon.  

The Rosa Imperiale disappeared fast, so we decided to open the Vintage 2014 Meiomi Pinot was so refreshing!  Meiomi (May-OH-mee) is derived from the California Wappo tribe language meaning "coast".  

The wine is a layered blend of the best vineyards along the California coast with berries taken from Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Monterey  and crafted to create an unforgettable taste. 

My favorite of the evening was The Original Smoking Loon ~ Cabernet Sauvignon.

The back of the bottle tells a story all on its own.

I'm not sure who Jake is, but he definitely took care of business by delivering to us this warm and delicious wine for Thanksgiving.  If you are new to reds, I would recommend trying all three.  From dessert to semi-dry, your palette will not be disappointed.  

What wines are you drinking this month?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

#MySundayPhoto - After Thanksgiving Lunch

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and no one wanted to eat more least at that time.  So some of the family decided to go for brunch at a local restaurant in Charlotte.  Well...since so much fun was had the night before, brunch quickly turned into lunch since no one could seem to be ready before noon.  A good number of our family couldn't wait that long, so they went to eat breakfast, or ate leftovers, or ate the comps at their hotel.  The rest of us were able to gather here before many hit the road to depart for home.  

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.  I hope you had a great time celebrating with family and friends as much as we did.  Oh, see that cute little baby in the middle, he's the newest member of our family. Welcome Baby Charlie.  

So what was your day like after Thanksgiving? 
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Friday, November 27, 2015

Simply Me ~ November

It's the last Friday of the month and that means its time for you to learn a little bit more about me through my Simple Me series.  Simple Me is a link up series sponsored by Liz of Sundays with Sophia.  If you would like to join in, feel free to do so.  This month's series of questions all have to deal with firsts

What was the first car you drove?
The first car I drove, I believe was a Datsun.  I don't think they even make them anymore.  When I earned my license as a teen, I drove one of our family cars, which was a white 4-door hatchback Toyota.  My very first car was a light blue, 2 door hatchback Honda.   Loved that car!  

The first dance you went to was?
Dance...Oh, gosh!  I really don't remember this one.  I know we had dances in my elementary school during the school day because I remember competing with a fellow classmate.  I think we had a 5th grade dance, but I'm not too certain about that...I may be thinking about my boys when they were in school.  The first dance I can remember would be my middle school dances.  I can remember on select Friday evenings, finally being able to hang out with my parents were very strict. They would begin around 6 pm and end around 8:30 pm.  I think my parents picked me up at 8 pm because good girls didn't stay out late.  

What about your first job?
My first job was during my senior year of high school when I worked as a co-op for The Family Health Center.  I served as the assistant to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  This was an awesome job and the hours were great.  I would work about 3 hours/day Monday - Friday.  Let's don't discuss pay, but it was good for what I needed back then.  I got to know many people in the medical profession by working there and it proved to be very beneficial to my future.

Tell us about the first phone you had?
First landline or cellphone?  Let's do both.  I finally received access to a landline in my own room when I turned 16 years old.  That was a milestone for me.  Being able to talk in the privacy of my own room was AWESOME.  Believe me, there were guidelines and I didn't dare break them.  My first cellphone was actually a bag phone.  Do you guys remember those?  I wish I took a picture of it.  My mom did not believe we should be talking on a phone that worked from sound waves in the air.  She still to this day believes we are putting ourselves at a greater risk to damaging our health.  

What was the first book you read? (an actual chapter book)
Okay, now I'm way to old to remember this one.  I don't remember my first chapter book, but I know I loved Junie B Jones books with Ramona Quimby.  I would have my mom drop me off at the county library on Saturdays just so I could go read as many books as I wanted.  I had books at home, but the library had so much more.  This was a favorite pastime of mine growing up. The librarians knew me well and expected to see me each week.  Now, in the beginning, my mom would go with me  until she felt I was mature enough to stay on my own and trusted the people that worked there. 

I really liked these questions, Liz, because you took me back down memory lane.  Looking forward to even more in the coming months.  

What are some of your first?  Share with me below.
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