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Christmas Cookies

November 30, 2013
This year, I want to make a ton of Christmas cookies.  I usually receive Christmas cookies and never bake them, so I hope to finally return the favor to my friends and co-workers.  My sister Melissa is coming down from Michigan for a visit, and she has already agreed to help me bake!

I searched the internet for recipes that I would like to try and found the following:

1) Eggnog Ice Box Cookies

Recipe from A Pretty Life

2)  Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cookies

Recipe from Mom Endeavors

3) Christmas Sugar Cookies

Recipe from Baking Bites
4) Cran-Pistachio Cookies

Recipe posted on The Girl Who Ate Everything originally from Betty Crocker

5) Peppermint Cookies

Recipe from Poofy Cheeks guest posted by Classy Clutter
6. Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe from Food, Fun, & Life

What's your favorite kind of holiday cookie?

Black Friday: ASOS Haul

November 29, 2013
I'm a sucker for Black Friday deals and this year was no exception!  I got some gifts for my family, but don't really want to write about those since they check my blog every so often, so instead I'll tell you about what I splurged on for myself.  I know I mentioned on here before that I gained some weight in the past few years, and I haven't been doing a lot shopping for clothes because I was in denial thinking,"Oh, I don't need to buy a bigger size.  I'll lose the weight and just wear what I already have."  Well, I have lost about ten pounds, and hope to continue this weight loss trend, but in the meantime I'm just tired of not feeling as stylish as I used to feel.  This is why I went ahead and just bought a couple of trendy pieces that I can wear right away.  I have plenty of non-plus sized clothes in my wardrobe that don't fit like they used to, and wanted to get some items that fit me well, so I browsed ASOS's Curve section and liked what I saw!  It was hard to choose, but in the end, I purchased the following:

1) ASOS Curve Pencil Skirt in Velvet Floral

I am definitely a curvy girl no matter how much I weigh and so I think pencil skirts are pretty flattering on my figure.  Plus, the skirt is long enough to wear to work and is also appropriate to wear when I teach.  I have plenty of plain shirts to pair with it, and fell for the floral print and for the fact that it is already marked down from the original price of $58.08.  One thing I like about the ASOS site is that often information about the model is provided, such as her height and what size she is wearing.  Most of the models are 5'10" or 5'11" and since I am almost 6'0", it gave me a good idea of what the clothes might look like on me.  

 2) ASOS Curve Exclusive Sweat with Cross Print

I've already established on here how much I love black, so this piece was calling my name.  I picked a sweatshirt because I live in a place that has cold, snowy, and LONG winters.  Additionally, I'm always feeling cold when everyone else says they are feeling comfortable, so this would be a shirt I could layer on top of a thermal.  I couldn't wear it in a professional setting, but it just was too comfy looking to pass up.


3. ASOS Curve Pencil Skirt in Floral Print

I went ahead and bought another pencil skirt because I figured I could wear it in the winter with leggings or tights or in the summer with bare legs.  Mostly, I just bought this skirt because I loved the print and design!

I'm glad I went ahead and got these items...No matter what size you are, everyone deserves to own clothes that they like and fit them properly!

If you're looking for some new clothes, check out ASOS, as I got an additional 20% off today with the promo code: GIMME20.  Also, students always get an extra 10% off!  I wish I would have known about that before I graduated, but I thought I'd pass the info. along.  Standard shipping is free, too!

This was my first time buying anything off of ASOS, and can't wait for my package to arrive.  Have you ever bought anything off of ASOS?  What Black Friday deals did you find today? 

Travel Opportunities I'm Thankful For: Part 1

November 26, 2013

With Thanksgiving around the corner and everyone around me reflecting on what they're thankful for, I started thinking about some of the things that I am grateful I've experienced.  Without a doubt, being able to travel the world is something that I am very thankful for.  Traveling domestically and abroad has opened my eyes, changed my perspective, and ultimately made me a more empathetic person. I've seen beautiful sights, explored faraway places, and wouldn't take these trips back for anything!  I decided to express my gratitude by compiling and sharing a list of some travel opportunities I have been blessed with having.  I may make this into a mini-series.  Each post will highlight five unique places.

1) Mt. Cook in New Zealand- Seriously, if you want your breath taken away, head here for some stunningly beautiful scenes.  My friends and I hiked around the base of the mountain and did not regret stopping to take in the Southern Alps and the surrounding areas.

2. Outer Banks, North Carolina- North Carolina is special to me in general because it is where my sister Denise moved to.  I have made several visits down and we have had a blast hanging out and making new memories together.  Denise got engaged at the Outer Banks and decided to get married right on the beach in Kill Devil Hills.  We decided to rent a house directly on the beach for a week before her wedding, so it gave us time to hang out and prepare for her upcoming wedding but there was still plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beach. 

3. Bai Villages in Western China- When I visited Dali in Yunnan Province, I knew that I wanted to hire a driver to take me to some of the Bai Villages.  The Bai people are an ethnic minority in China, and there are about 2 million people who fall into this group.  The majority of the Bai people do live in Yunnan Province and practice Buddhism, although folklore plays a role in their beliefs.  In Dali, I could identify people as being Bai because they were wearing traditional clothing, such as the headdresses.  
When I thought of a Chinese person, I just pictured a Han Chinese person, since they are the ethnic majority in China.  I never heard of the Bai people before planning my trip to Yunnan Province, so it was very interesting to me to see how they lived.  The first place I was taken to was something that had obviously been set up for tourists.  We were shown a Bai house, participated in their three step tea ceremony, and everyone was dressed in traditional clothing.  My favorite part of the trip was when I was taken to smaller villages and markets because I got to observe how they really lived and worked.  Unfortunately, my driver hardly spoke any English at all, so some of my questions went unanswered, but it was still such a cool thing to get to be able to do! 


4) Newfoundland, Canada- While teaching in Korea, I became friends with three Newfie girls.  Two worked at my school, and another girl worked about 20 minutes away, but she would always come and hang out with us.  They talked about Newfoundland and how beautiful it was and told me how I just had to visit.  I finally did and was able to meet up with my friend Leann, who showed me around St. John's.  We also went on a road trip to Gros Morne National Park and stopped in her hometown of Gander along the way.  I loved seeing where three of my good friends grew up and was lucky to have experienced the friendliness of the people firsthand.  For more pictures of my trip to Newfoundland, click here and here.

5. Chitwan National Park, Nepal

We went through the national park where I saw a rhino in the wild...and her baby!  We also got to go sit on top of an elephant while they were taking a bath!!  It was so much fun--they splash you with water from their trunks.  Also, I went to the elephant breeding center where I was in for a treat because two twin baby elephants had been born.  Twin baby elephants are very rare, and it is even more rare for both of them to survive.  This whole trip was completely amazing!

What is something you are very thankful for?