Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holiday Gifts For A Teacher

Over the years, I have received some thoughtful, inspirational, useful and wonderful holiday gifts from students. I have also received more Christmas themed coffee mugs than I knew what to do with, and most of them ended up at Goodwill. Make sure to read the tips at the bottom!

1. Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Amazon Gift Cards
2. Thirty Three Lunch Box (customizable) 

Tips for the perfect gift...
  1. We not do expect gifts. We would take words of appreciation, and support at home, over gifts, in a heartbeat! 
  2. Ask your child's teacher what some of their favorite hobbies and/or restaurants are. Gift cards never fail to please. My teaching partner and I used to trade Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts gift cards because she liked one and I liked the other. 
  3. Have your child sign their own name. Even if their penmanship is awful, it means more to us if they sign instead of you. 
  4. Don't feel obligated to spend your grocery money on us; we greatly appreciate handmade cards.
  5. If you're going to bake, please check ahead to make sure the teacher does not have any food allergies. 
  6. Brainstorm with other parents in the class; group gifts are just as great as individual ones, especially if you're short on funds.
  7. Help your child pick a thoughtful gift - Don't let your child go into the "junk drawer" at home for a gift - we can tell when the nail polish has been used and really, it's just insulting to us. 
  8. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give us, is your time. I never had a para or teaching aid and was always relieved when parents offered to take things home to finish them (cutting out laminated pieces, organizing projects, etc.) 
  9. Avoid things that are Christmas themed; Santa Claus mugs, Christmas tree ornaments, hand towels with Rudolph
  10. Please also keep in mind, that not everyone celebrates Christmas, myself included. Teaching in the south, I was a rare breed, and proud of it. It gave me the opportunity to teach my students about Judaism, and let me tell you, they were mesmerized! *One year, a child gave me gelt and a beautiful hand written card; I was almost in tears.
I hope everyone has a fun and easy time finding the perfect gift, or making a special card for a teacher this holiday season!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

November Favorites

I've rounded up some of my favorite hair, body, and beauty products from this month.

I'll definitely be repurchasing these products. Some of them could be used as stocking stuffers and none of them are outrageously priced. 

For starters, if you're one of those people whose hair refuses to hold a curl for more than 5 minutes, you need this curling wand. It won't break the bank, and the best part is that I don't even have to use hair spray!

Before blow drying, straightening or curling my hair, I use this Rusk Thermal Flat Iron spray. It reminds me of the CHI 44 Iron Guard, but it smells better and doubles as hair spray (if you want.)

Another Rusk product that I love, is this 12-in-1 leave in spray. After I get out of the shower, and towel dry my hair, I spray this all over. It doesn't leave a film on my hair, even if I let it air dry, and it smells great!

I have always been a fan of TIGI products. I recently picked up their Blow Out Illuminating Shine cream. You can use it before or after you blow dry your hair. I have found that on my hair, it works best if I use it right after I straighten my hair. I'm blonde, so it adds a nice golden depth to my locks.

I was unsure what to make of the BB Cream trend, until I ventured out and tried it for myself. BB Cream is comparable to tinted moisturizer, but with some added beauty benefits, including minimizing imperfections (sort of like concealer!) Every company makes a different formula, but for those of us who are on a budget *raises hand* New York Color (NYC) has some great options, including this one

This last product is not something I expected to love, but I do! My grandmother used to wash her hair with Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo, which I never understood but always loved the smell of. Johnson and Johnson has same great products, including this cocoa and shea butter lotion. It smells great, and I always find myself using it before bed. This is especially perfect if you're like me and have super sensitive skin.

What are some of your favorite beauty and skincare products? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!


Friday, November 25, 2016

Stocking Stuffers for the Travel Junkie

Growing up, my family took at least one big trip every year; Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the list goes on. My mom was always the one to organize everything we needed for these trips. In 2007, sans my mother, my cousins and I took a trip to Greece. I caught the travel bug and have been collecting passport stamps ever since! Throughout the trips I've taken, I have made it a point to always keep some specific items in my carry-on. They can be used whether you're traveling an hour or 21 hours via plane, train, car or boat. I'll be heading to New Zealand in a few weeks and actually need to restock on some of these goodies!

Portable Charger (here) Simple Cleansing Wipes (here)
Rosebud Lip Salve (
here) Purell Sanitizer (here)
Silk Sleep Mask (
here) Beats Wireless Headphones (here)
Aloe Vera Fuzzy Socks (
Where is your favorite place to travel?


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tis the Season to be Thankful

Every year at Thanksgiving dinner, my family goes around the table and announces what they are thankful for. This year, I thought it would be fun to do a "Things I'm Thankful For" post. I pieced together five different questions that I found online. Here goes!

1. What teacher are you most thankful for? What did you learn from him/her?
My third grade teacher, Miss Teresa Ladopoulos. This woman is the reason that I became a teacher. She made every subject fresh and exciting. She gave me confidence in who I was and taught our class as a whole to embrace the differences that we found in each other.

2. Name three days in your life that you feel especially grateful for.
The first, would be last Thanksgiving. It was the last family holiday that I got to spend with my grandmother before she passed. I told my father that I was going to fly home from South Carolina and surprise her. (I told the rest of my family that I was unsure about my Thanksgiving travel plans -- they all have big mouths!) When she opened up her door, she exclaimed, "What are you doing here?!" and the biggest smile lit up her face. 

55 Degrees - November 2015

The second, would be July 30, 2013 - the day I got my first teaching job. Even though after three years, I was worn down and miserable, I am incredibly grateful that the district took a chance on me. I was interviewed over the phone by all three administrators, and when Randy from HR called me that afternoon, I screamed with excitement. He later told me he had never met anyone so enthusiastic for a job. 

The third, would be January 31, 2014. Finn, my pride and joy, was gifted to me after her owner moved to Georgia. I couldn't imagine my life without her. My friends and family know my obsession with her, and they love her almost as much as I do. She has helped me through the darker of my days, and although she has no respect for hangovers, she lights up my life. 

The weekend I brought Finn home.

3. What philanthropic cause or organization do you feel thankful for?
I am most thankful for the American Cancer Society. My grandmother passed away on January 23, 2016, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. My teaching partner, Demi, had lost her sister years earlier to the same thing. Demi and I had a student, Joshua Vacey, who lost his father to brain cancer only weeks after my grandmother had passed. Students and staff members rallied around us with condolences and kind words. Demi brought Relay for Life to my attention and asked if I would assist her in heading it up. After doing some research, I jumped at the opportunity. I am thankful for events like Relay for Life because it gets the entire community involved while educating everyone about where their donations go, and how they help. Our school raised over $3,000 and my students had a great time helping us prepare for the event. 

Demi, Joshua and Myself - Summerville, SC Relay for Life 2016

4. What form of exercise or physical activity are you most thankful for?
Riding. Hands down my favorite physical activity. Many people have the misconception that the rider sits atop a horse, looking pretty and expending no energy. In reality, riding works every part of the body. Not only is riding great exercise, but it is even better therapy. There is an adrenaline rush during every competition. Even if I'm not in the ring, being at the barn early on a Sunday morning, when everyone else is at church, is my favorite. 

Me and Kensington (Jet) 2013

Me and It's a Reality (Al) 2015
5. What, from this year, do you feel most grateful for?
I am the most grateful for my support system. So many different aspects of my life were turned upside down this year; I have struggled since before the clock struck 12 on New Years Eve to figure out why. Almost a full year later, I have even more questions. My grandmother passed away, another member of my family was very ill, I quit my job, I moved my entire life to Charlotte to be with someone who turned out to be the opposite of who I thought he was; who I hoped he would be. I felt defeated. In September, it all got to be too much and I moved home. I am extremely blessed that my family and friends not only welcomed me home after being away for three years, but that they encouraged me to do so. No one has cast judgement for the mistakes that I have made. They remind me of how far I've come and how much I've sacrificed for others. They keep me going. 

What are some of the things you are grateful for this Thanksgiving?


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Gift Guide for the Equestrian In Your Life

My mother likes to joke that I could ride before I could walk. Some days, I'm so clumsy with my feet on the ground that I actually believe this could be true. In any event, riding is my church, my therapy, and my happy place. Although I spend a ton of time at the barn, there is not a tack shop within close range. (An hour at minimum.) With the holidays coming in fast, I thought it only appropriate to provide a gift guide for those of you who have an equestrian, or a horse lover in your life! Dover Saddlery, one of my favorite companies, is having a Black Friday sale with up to 70% off. Their sale runs 11/22/16 until 11/27/16. State Line Tack is another website where I often peruse and have purchased quite a bit of tack. They have an automatic 30% off coupon code that applies when you visit their site.  

Horse Bit Bracelet (here) Hoof Pick Belt (here) Joules Jacket (here) Personalized Leather Bracelet (here and hereKerrits Ladies Horse Sense Half Zip (hereNoble Outfitters Ladies Elements Cowl (here) Pashmina Scarf (hereRoeckl® Polartec® Fleece Gloves (hereRider's International Large Diamond Pad (hereZocks Ladies Boot Socks (here)