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Christmas Confessions

December 27, 2014
Happy Saturday!  I hope all of your Christmases were enjoyable.  Today I'll be sharing some of my Christmas Confessions with you.

*  I did all of my Christmas shopping online this year, and it was wonderful!! Everything arrived on time, which was amazing because I waited until pretty late in the game to get started on this.  I just shipped directly to everyone which saved me money that I normally would have spent at the post office.  This was the way to go for sure because it was easy, convenient, and I avoided the crowds in the shops.  I was short on time, and this saved me.  In the past, of course I have bought items online for others, but never have I done 100% of my Christmas shopping online.  Everyone seemed to love their gifts (at least they told me they did), so if I'm ever pressed for time again like I was this year, I will once again do all of it online.

* I didn't know what I was going to do for Christmas until about 2 pm.  I got invited to four Christmases (since people know I'm alone down here in South Carolina), but I ended up going to Ev's brother's house for the day.  At first I was scared that it would be awkward if everyone was opening gifts, but they did that earlier in the day and I didn't feel uncomfortable at all.  Ev's nephew got a Family Feud game for Christmas, and we played a couple of rounds.  Board games and cards are a Christmas tradition with my sister Melissa, so I was glad that even though we couldn't spend Christmas together that I still got to play some games. 

* The cash that I got for Christmas is going towards...a tattoo!  I am not happy with the tattoo that I currently have, so the tattoo artist I'm working with is going to be covering it up and making it part of a larger design.  I'm NERVOUS, but also excited because I looked at a lot of tattoo artists' portfolios before I took the plunge and made the appointment.  By the way, I'm only slightly nervous about the pain--my biggest worry is about the design.  I actually have a consultation today and she's going to show me what she created.

* The best Christmas present ever this year was not having to work.  As many of you know, I used to be an assistant manager at a movie theater for five years and before that I just worked there as a regular worker while in high school and college.  Since Christmas Day is a booming day of business at movie theaters especially because there are so many films that are released ON Christmas, employees are expected to be available to work.  In my ten years working at a movie theater, I worked almost every Christmas.  One would expect that on Christmas Day that the people coming out to see movies would be in good moods because of the reason behind the holiday, but that was not the case.  Some of the meanest customers EVER came out on Christmas.  Last year a worker and I had our jobs threatened by a grown man because we wouldn't let a girl who said she was 19 (but who knows how old she really was) into The Wolf of Wall Street without her I.D. or parent present. Another year I had the F-bomb dropped at me for not letting underage kids into a different rated R movie and got told that I ruined their Christmas.  Usually people just yelled at me because it was so busy, so to not have to deal with the general public on a holiday like last year was a real treat!!

* I feel like kind of a jerk, but I didn't send out any Christmas cards this year.  I did end up getting some lovely cards.  Maybe I could just send out some New Year's cards this year instead?
*  You know the line, "Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse," from 'Twas the Night Before Christmas?  Well, I wish I could say that was the case for me, but it wasn't so.  One of my students bought me Lindor Chocolate Truffles, and I had three of them left out on a table.  Well, I went into Savannah for hours, and when I came back, I noticed that there was only one left.  I thought that was really strange, but then I thought maybe I was mistaken and that I had actually eaten two of the truffles and just forgotten that I had.  Then, later in the afternoon, I came across a truffle wrapper under the washing machine.  The next day, I saw something out of the corner of my eye, and it was the second truffle wrapper all torn up into bits and pieces under the stove.  I called my best friend Ev in a panic saying that there had to be a creature in my house, and that I was terrified.  Ev loves to tease people and instead of telling me not to worry, he told me a bunch of ridiculous stuff about how he thinks it is a racoon that coming down from the attic at night.  He said that I had better be careful while I was sleeping because racoons are known to get close to your mouth and steal your breath at night.  Then he went on about how he also thinks it could be a giant rat since I live by the marsh. Thanks, Ev.  Thanks a lot.  Since I was scared, I ended up spending the night at Ev's place in Georgia. When I came back the next day, there were all of these bites out of an apple and what's worse is that the animal had been in my bedroom because it it had torn up and eaten a pack of hot chocolate someone had sent.  That did not sit well with me since I tried to tell myself that the mysterious creature had restricted access to the kitchen.  I told the family that I rent from, and they said that they've had this house for 17 years and they've only had a mouse problem one other time.  The husband came over to my side of the apartment and set out four traps.  I know I'm probably being dramatic, but I'm so incredibly grossed out by rodents, even though I know it is a common household problem.  I spent the night here last night, but I had to "sleep" with the light on and jumped a mile every time I heard the house creak. I've considered renting a hotel room, driving back to Georgia to stay at Ev's again, or buying a tent so at least I would feel "zipped" in.  Hahaha...please tell me I'm not the only one who feels this way about mice!  I love how this mouse went for my gourmet hot chocolate, truffles, and an apple.  I guess I at least feel better about living with a mouse that has good taste (joking.)  

* I was planning on making homemade cookies for my students on the last day before their winter break.  Then I found out that we were not permitted to make stuff for students and bring it in.  In the Ohio schools I worked at, we were allowed to, but students were encouraged to bring in store bought items.  I was kind of bummed about having to buy cookies instead of make them, but I understand why and in the end I was actually relieved because I ended up having something else to that night. It all ended up working out in my favor.

* I think I got everyone what they wanted for Christmas, but the gift I was the most excited about giving was this gorgeous headband to my future niece.  Denise texted me back saying,"This is the most BEAUTIFUL headband I have ever seen!  Thank you sooo much.  Sophia will love it!  Can't wait for her to wear it.  It is very special and has the style of Lisa all over it!"  Hopefully it makes an appearance in her newborn pictures.  Also, poor Denise is STILL pregnant.  Her official due date is in two days, but I don't think she would complain if Sophia came a little bit early.  I know that she is ready to be a mom and that I am ready to be an aunt!

* I say all the time how my mom is really embarrassing.  Every year, I dread to think about what types of humiliating and inaccurate details she will write about me in her Christmas newsletter that she sends out to hundreds of her friends.  What's worse is her picture selection... It's always something terrible.  This year she told me that she was going to send a picture of my two sisters with their husbands and then solo pictures of my little brother and I.  (Really Mom??)  I was worried about which picture she picked until I got a text from Denise that said, "Did you know that the Christmas picture Mom sent was a picture from Melissa's wedding?  She has been sending the same picture out since 2011."  HAHAHA!!  I guess that's better than having hundreds of people just get one random picture of me.

* Here in the Low Country it rained every single day pretty much non-stop until Christmas.  Having dry weather was a great Christmas gift!  It was starting to upset me because I wasn't able to do what I had planned for the week.  Ev and I were going to go out and explore some of the beaches at Tybee Island, but who wants to do that in the pouring rain?  Now that the weather is better we are planning to go on Monday. 

* Some people that I know are Jamberry nail wrap consultants and they incessantly post pictures of nail wraps and flash sales on Facebook.  This kind of bothered me until I remembered the "unfollow" option, but it turned me off from wanting to contact them about trying out a wrap.  I was kind of happy when Denise included one in her Christmas gift to me.  I might even review them on here since I don't have the pressure of offending someone I know if I don't like the wraps (even though I hope I love them!!)

Do you have any Christmas confessions?  Please share them in the comments section because I'm going through withdrawal of reading others' confessions posts.  ;)

Holiday Cheer

December 25, 2014
I decided to go ahead and stay in the Low Country for my holiday break rather than to go back to Ohio and spend Christmas with my parents.  I would have spent Christmas with my sister Denise in North Carolina, but since she is due to give birth to her first born on December 29th, we decided that it might be too chaotic to make plans.  Even though my family members are far away, I didn't let it damper my holiday spirit and still was able to enjoy the season to the fullest!  In this post, I'll be sharing some moments that helped me feel more festive.

* Confession:  I did not put up any Christmas decorations this year.  The few decorations I own are packed away in my parents' basement because I have limited space here.  Since I didn't decorate, I got into the Christmas spirit by walking around downtown Savannah and admiring all the decorations I saw there.  Some of the historic buildings are already beautiful enough without the extra embellishments for Christmas, but once those touches were added...whoa!  Gorgeous!  So, thank you citizens of Savannah for sending some Christmas cheer my way.

* In addition to just the buildings being decked up, holiday decorations were found all over the historic district.

* Although Savannah has its charm, I also enjoyed looking at decorations in Statesboro, Georgia.  I have to say that Beaufort, South Carolina had some nice window displays in certain shops, too.

* Another event that brought a smile to my face was when the pre-k students at the school I work for paraded through the halls singing Christmas carols to all the other classes.  They were so adorable, and it looked like they were having a blast.  Not to mention that my students got a kick out of hearing them sing.

* Nothing quite screams Christmas like having some holiday food, and that I did.  I couldn't resist having some Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, and a couple candy canes. 

* One evening Ev, Jared, and I decided to drive around and look at Christmas lights.  We came across some wonderful light displays, but the best one we found had to be this one!  These people went all out.  There were about 7 other cars there that were also full of people who also stopped by to check out their lights.

* Besides just viewing the outside decorations in Savannah, I made it a point to visit various hotels in Savannah to see how the lobbies were done up for the holidays.  Ev and I went into the Hyatt and were impressed by this giant gingerbread house that was taller than both of us.  Then, Jared, Ev, and I went to the Westin to look at the gingerbread village there.  There was a contest and different groups submitted their best attempts at a gingerbread house to be judged.  Some of my favorite gingerbread creations were the ones that were of famous sights in Savannah such as the Westin itself, a Savannah riverboat with the Talmadge Bridge in the background, and of the city hall.

* Since I don't have a tree in my place it was nice to appreciate everyone else's!

Above: Jared and Ev's tree

Below: Trees inside the Westin

* Just hanging out with good friends like Ev and Jared made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  They really are like my Low Country family.  Plus, they shared some of their Christmas goodies with me.  Jared made peppermint and butterscotch fudge as well as... wait for it...(Sorry, too much How I Met Your Mother)...Buckeyes!!  Not going to lie--I was ecstatic to be offered some of the Buckeyes since they're a special Ohio dessert that I haven't had in awhile!

* I went inside the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which was full of wreaths and red Christmas bows.  There is also a manger on display as well as a breathtaking poinsettia tree.

* Participating in Secret Santa at work was a lot of fun.  I drew the school secretary, and she is one of the nicest people in my school.  She gave me a card one day that said I was appreciated more than I knew (probably because she felt bad for me since I had a terrible experience with my grade cards not printing.)  I was glad to get someone that I a) like and b) someone that I sort of know.  My Chinese co-teacher pulled a name out of the hat and she had no idea who the person was.  Also, it was great to get the occasional treat from the person that picked my name!

* Finally, touring the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low was perfect during this time of the year.  (She started the Girl Scouts!) The house is magnificent year-round, but the little touches that were added for Christmas really made it even more special.  There were stockings hanging over the fireplace, and the table was set for a Christmas feast.

What brought you some holiday cheer? 

Last but not least, I want to wish anyone reading a very Merry Christmas and/or happy holiday season.

Pushing Through til my Holiday Break

December 15, 2014
Recently, I talked to my sister Denise about how I am feeling overworked and am counting down the days until Christmas break.  She gave me a good idea and encouraged me to do a "raffle" with myself.  The gist of it is that I write down ten small ways to treat myself on folded up pieces of paper and then each working day, I can draw from the pile.  I tend to just focus a lot on work and by the time I get home and have dinner I'm too tired to do much of anything.  I think throwing an extra activity in my schedule is a great motivator to help me get through a long work week.

Here are the ten ideas that I came up with:

1) Do an at home manicure and pedicure.  Yes, I paint my nails a lot, but I don't always do all the extra steps like shape my nails, push back cuticles and use both a top and base coat.  This time I'm going to do it all!  Goodness knows my feet deserve a good soak.  :)

2) Go to Dunkin Donuts and get a peppermint mocha and holiday donut.  I hardly ever have coffee during the week anymore because there is only one time when I can leave my students and go to the bathroom.  I never have coffee when I get off work because I'm scared the caffeine will keep me up and I try to go to bed early so that I can get up and go in early to prepare before my students arrive, but I'm going to make an exception this week.

3) Make crepes.  Denise suggested this, and I like that it's an idea that won't break the bank!  If I make them for dinner after school, I can always make extra and have a tasty breakfast waiting for me the next day.

4) Aesthetic reading for one full hour.  I read a little throughout the week, but just for a 15 minutes here and there.  Setting aside a bigger block of time just for reading is something out of the ordinary on a school night, so it really will be special.

5) Come up with travel plans for a future trip.  Rachael and I have discussed going to Iceland in July.  I'd like to come up with a list of places to visit and look into some options for accommodation.  You can bet I'll be using Kaelene's blog as a resource!

6) Make Christmas cookies.  I could share them with my students and my Secret Santa at work.  It's always ideal to kill two birds with one stone.

7) Write a blog post. It's hard to get motivated to write during the week just because I spend a lot of time sitting at the computer doing lessons, but usually once I sit down and start blogging, I never regret it!  

8) Have a Netflix movie night complete with popcorn and seasoning salt to go with it.  I watch a lot of shows on Netflix (just finished The Originals--sooo good!!), but it has been awhile since I watched an actual movie. 

9) Go window shopping downtown and just take in all the Christmas decorations.  It's pretty amazing being in the South and not having to freeze all winter.  I should take advantage of that and get outside more.

10)  Cook myself dinner, as in actually cook myself something delicious and healthy instead of just heating up a Healthy Choice meal.  (The pumpkin ravioli has been my go to meal lately.)  As an added bonus, I will be able to have leftovers so that I can have a decent lunch...Even my students noticed that when I pack it's almost always PB&J.

What little things do you do for yourself so that it makes it easier to get through a challenging week at work?

The Truth Behind my Instagram Pics

December 9, 2014
Over the summer I started an Instagram account and also came across this post called What I Instagrammed Vs. What Was Really Happening,  The post cracked me up because it's funny the lengths some of us go to just to get that perfect picture.  Inspired by her post, I chose five of my own Instagram pics and would like to tell you the truth behind them.

Picture #1

From the looks of this pic, it would appear that I'm going to enjoy a tasty cup of froyo.  The truth of the matter is that the Savannah heat got to my friends Ev, Jared, and I.  We weren't even that hungry, but we just wanted to take a break from being outside in smoldering hot weather and be air conditioning.  We were also dying of thirst. While the froyo was good, I was sitting there irritated because when I asked for the cashier for a cup of water she told me no.  Ev was also appalled by her attitude and wanted to go say something to her, but instead we just sat there feeling dehydrated.  Later we saw that they had some bottled water for sale, but I just wanted to get out of there.

Picture #2

One of my students gave me this as a gift.  He was so proud of this pumpkin, which is so sweet, right?  I told him I loved it and displayed it on my desk.  After a couple of days, another student came and ripped the stem off of it, and the next day it was missing!! I still have no idea where it went, but can only assume that another student took it home which is disappointing.  I mean, where else would it have gone?  The case of the missing pumpkin remains unsolved.

Picture #3

I had been wanting to try out a particular French cafe in Savannah for awhile.  Finally, Ev and I went, and we were initially pleased about the atmosphere and were expecting a good meal because the two of us were starving.  When the food arrived, it was seriously disgusting, and we could tell that it was not fresh. Also, about 10 minutes after I took this picture, a couple of families with a bunch of unsupervised kids came in. While the parents were ordering macarons, the kids were running around the restaurant, screaming loudly, knocking the vases over on the table (I thought for sure they would eventually knock them on the floor and break them), and erasing the chalk art with the daily specials on it.  At least I got a good Instagram picture??? Hahaha.

Picture #4

Fresh hummus with pita bread is a weakness of mine, and it's not that this food wasn't delicious because it totally was...It just got awkward because at the restaurant, my friend realized his ex worked there!  The ex very obviously flirted with my friend saying things like, "I've been after this one for years."  He kept coming by our table and even left my friend with his number.  We both felt so uncomfortable because my pal is in a committed relationship with his partner!!  

Picture #5

Oh, tra la la, it looks as though I was just feeling festive and showing off my first holiday Starbucks drink of the season.  Well, there is a reason why I had this drink in my car and did not stay inside of Starbucks to have it.  It's not because I went through the drive-thru, either.  There were no seats left inside of Starbucks besides one by this man who hadn't purchased a drink and who looked...uh, overly um excited to be there if you catch my drift. There was no way I was sitting by him.

Do you have any stories behind your Instagram pics?  Sometimes life isn't as perfect as we portray it to be on social media, that's for sure!