November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Our past Thanksgiving
I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Here in New England we just got hit with a snowstorm. Many people in Massachusetts and New Hampshire lost power due to the snow fall. My thoughts are with the people affected by the storm and the power outages as this may effect their Thanksgiving. They have lost food and have no electricity to cook on Thursday. As we all know Thanksgiving isn't just about sharing food and eating lots of turkey with our friends and loved ones. Thanksgiving reminds us to reflect on what we are grateful for. I made a list of some of the things I am grateful for:
  • My family. I have a small family. Even though we all don't live in the same state they are always on my mind and in my heart. I always think about them. I am grateful I have them in my life. I couldn't imagine my life without the three of them. On Thanksgiving I get to see all of them and that makes me so happy that we are all under one roof.
  • Yanni. Yanni is my best friend and soul mate. We have been together for over 13 years and no one knows me better than he does. He is understanding, patient, loving, and caring. He is extremely easy going and kind hearted. Everyone who meets him, immediately adores him. Me included. As soon as I saw him I felt an immediate connection. I wish I could take a little of that magic he spreads and radiates. I think people can just sense his good nature and are comfortable being around him. He always seeks and finds the good in everyone. He is just naturally a good person. He is wise beyond his years. I am so lucky to have him in my life as a partner, a guide, and a friend. I treasure  my life with him and I am grateful we found each other.
  • Taekwondo and my TaeKwonDo family. I started TaeKwonDo 2 years go in November. I have always wants to do Martial Arts. When I first started I had doubts. Was I too old? Was I going to remember what I was taught? Could I learn Taekwondo? Taekwondo has filled my life with so much. It's not just learning about kicking, punching, breaking boards, and self defense. It embodies compassion, self-respect, discipline, and integrity. I have been so inspired and encouraged by my Master and classmates. We have a classmate over 74 years old and he is a true inspiration. He has a big heart and amazing spirit. They have been so wonderful to work with. I can't imagine my life without Taekwondo or them.
  • Teaching. Yanni and I help our Master teach children Taekwondo. Working with these children has opened my heart and mind. I never thought I could be good with children. But working with them, watching them grow, develop, learn, and try makes me so happy. It and they give me so much energy. It's made me a better person.
  • Education. My mom has always instilled in me and my siblings the importance of education. I will admit I wasn't the best student as a child. I was okay with a B or C. I went to College, and something clicked. I wanted more for myself, so I pushed myself. I would hand write all my notes in class, then I would go back into my dorm room and type all the notes. I created relationships with my Professors. I was an A student throughout college. I graduated with a Criminal Justice degree, and even though I did not pursue a profession in Criminal Justice, and I currently work in E-Learning, I wouldn't change my degree or experience for the world. I learned so much about the Criminal Justice system, law, policies, and the over all system and it's something I am still interested in today. Going to college helped me grow into the adult I am today. I had roommates for the first time, I was exposed to different situations. It was a challenge and each challenge presented to me helped me become who I was going to be and ultimately who I am today. In High School we are limited to those who live in the same town or city, and there aren't many differences. In College I was exposed to different cultures, people, beliefs, and so much more. After college, I began pursuing my Masters and I am finishing that within the year.
  • My health. A few years ago when I put on weight I didn't feel like I was healthy at all and my doctor agreed. She asked me to watch my cholesterol as it was bordering unhealthy levels. She asked me to make a few changes in my eating. I was in my twenties and I asked myself what was I doing to myself. At that time I didn't even want to get off the couch. Yanni would ask me to go for a walk and I didn't want to do that either. I changed my life around that year. I went back to the doctor and she said "What did you do?" She was shocked with the changes I made and I haven't looked back. Since then I have been eating healthier, exercising, and training in TaeKwonDo I feel great.  I am grateful that I am healthy and I never take my health or my ability to be able to do things for granted.  
  • My country. I am so grateful and happy to be in the U.S. I know what we watch on the news can seem like a lot of negative things happen in our world. And unfortunately, bad things do happen, but I know a lot of good things that happen too. And I know there are good people out there doing positive things. I value our freedom and I am proud to be here. 
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope your day is filled of friends, family, and love. Most importantly, I hope you can set a little time aside for yourself to reflect on the year and all that you are grateful for. 

November 21, 2014

Updating Vintage Christmas Ornaments

I have been searching for vintage or vintage inspired ornaments to add to the Christmas tree this year. Like many people I get a feeling of nostalgia when I see little flocked santas or reindeers. I remember them hanging on my Christmas tree in the early 80s. It takes me to a time when I was just a child with no worries or cares in the world. I got to spend time with my mom and siblings everyday. I looked forward to playing with my Barbies and drawing.

Recently, I was walking around Target and I found the cutest ornaments, they were flocked little deers and they automatically brought me back to my childhood. I grabbed just a few and happily made my way to checkout. The checkout lady loved the little deer and said she would grab the rest later. Darn. I should have gotten them all. I went back a few days later and they were all gone. Yanni knew how much I wanted them, so he took me two a few more Targets, no luck, but at the last one we found a few more. Victory! I feel complete again.

This spurred my interest in looking for other ornaments that reminded me of my childhood. Who would have thought - the 80's is now considered vintage.  I have been having so much fun finding awesome vintage ornaments on Etsy. I found these cute snowmen on the Etsy Vintage Shop, Tilly Fritz.

In order to update these little reindeer and snowmen I used ribbon, pipe cleaners in different colors, mini candy canes, santa hats I found at Michael's, some mini pom poms and some hot glue.

For the little deer I painted a few with red noses, and made these little wreaths in different color pipe cleaners and hot glued mini ribbons I made.

For the little snowmen I cut some pipe cleaners to give the little snowmen some arms. I hot glued the little white pipe cleaner for arms on his body, and mini little candy canes, mini wreaths, or mini little trees to his arm.

These were so fun to make. I am now on the look out for some more flocked christmas ornaments.

What holiday crafts are you making or planning for this holiday season? I would love to see them.

Happy Holidays!

November 10, 2014

How to Make Magic Bars

I love magic bars. They are the perfect treat on a fall cool day with a cup of hazelnut hot chocolate. It starts with a layer of graham cracker crust, shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, and dark and milk chocolate, and more coconut. This version is a very easy one. I was surprised how easy they were to make. Too easy. So easy you could make this often, like 2 times in one I share of course....

Ingredients & Supplies

2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped organic walnuts
1-1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 can organic sweetened condensed milk, 14 ounces
1 Baking Dish, I use Rachel Ray's Non-stick Pan


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper.

Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until evenly moistened.

Press crumb mixture into bottom of prepared pan to form the crust.

 Layer half of the chocolate chips and the walnuts.

And then add the coconut evenly over entire pan and add the rest of the chocolate chips.

Pour the entire sweetened condensed milk can over. You can do this two ways. You can wait to pour the condensed milk at the end or you can pour it right over the crust and then add the toppings after and press the toppings on top. They both are equally delicious, but the texture changes just a tad.

Bake for 28 minutes at 350 degrees.

Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into bars and enjoy!

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have this week....twice!