Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blog Wishes

Blog Wishes Giveaway

When people ask me what my favorite holiday is, the answer is always Christmas. Being from Texas, we don't often have that postcard, white Christmas, but there's something about Christmastime; something changes in the air. Maybe it's the familiar chiming of the Salvation Army bells and red kettle, or the excitement of gift shopping and wrapping. I never grow tired of seeing the twinkling lights, feeling the chill outside and the warmth of a fire, and hearing bells and carolers.

A few months ago, I posted some Silver Toms that I really wanted on my blog post. I never imagined I would get them 2 months later on my birthday! Caitlin saw my post, and decided to get that for my birthday. My very thoughtful friends (CaitlinAriJoanna, Heather, and Kristen) all chipped in and got me my very comfortable, sparkly flats! The funny thing is, my sister saw the post and thought the exact same thing and got me the same TOMS! :) I need to return those, and get some new TOMS!

Anyway, I was so surprised and happy. It was definitely one of the best birthdays ever.
It got me thinking about my first giveaway. What if I made a giveaway about blog wishes? Where you post something you really want and actually get it? And it's just in time for Christmas!

Here are the basic guidelines:

1. You need to enter through Rafflecopter below. You can receive up to 6 entries for the giveaway.

  • 1 entry for commenting on this post with your name, link to your item, email, and blog site (this is mandatory).
  • 1 entry for blogging about my giveaway. Please email me at with your blog      entry about my blog giveaway including a link to my blog.
  • 1 entry for liking  my blog page on Facebook (MadeByFirenze)
  • 2 entries if you follow me on GFC! If you already do, I will make sure you get 2 entries. :)
  • 1 entry for Tweeting about the giveaway. I wanted to do Pinterest, but that wasn't available for me. If you  don't have Twitter (which I don't either) you can follow me on pinterest (minjoo) and pin my blog giveaway photo above and receive 1 entry.

Now for your item:

  • Choose one item on your Christmas list you would like. It cannot be a gift card, or 2 items. Only one.
  • The item must be less than $55. No exceptions.
  • It must also be something that can easily be bought online. No rare items or ebay items.
  • It should be from legitimate sites like amazonAnthropologieJ.Crew, or Target etc. If I have any concerns with your item, I will let you know.
  • If your item requires a size or color, please specify in your comment.

Please follow the Rafflecopter entry rules. Any false entries will be taken out.

I will contact the winner through email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends.

Good luck and have fun choosing your item!

Looking back...

Christmas is very special to me. When I was 5 years old, my father passed away from stomach cancer at home. Even though I was little, I knew my life would never be the same.
And I also knew I would not have a Christmas that following year. That was just an accepted fact. I saw my mom struggling to make ends meet raising my sister and I and I just knew I couldn't count on opening or giving presents. That is why my 6th Christmas was the most memorable, special time in my childhood. On Christmas Eve, the doorbell rang. As my sister and I opened the door, we heard ringing of bells and a distant  "Ho, ho, ho, merry Christmas!" And there, on our front porch were piles of beautifully wrapped Christmas presents with our names on them. I just remember my sister and I jumping up and down shouting to my mom that Santa had come and brought us presents!
I was so so happy and just remember thinking, he actually came to our house. He didn't forget about us. We had a Christmas. We could celebrate.

Of course, years later, I found out it was actually the wonderful officers at Garland PD who came that night and left those gifts for my sister and I. They were there the night my father passed away.
I don't remember what the presents were; they were probably dolls, toys, stuffed animals; My Little Ponies, or an Etch A Sketch. I don't have these things anymore.
But I still have the memory of that night. The joy I felt not from those items, but that someone actually remembered and thought of us. That's what I think of when I think about Christmas. It's about family, hope, giving of yourself, and love. And of course, the greatest gift of all. Jesus.

It is in that spirit, I am doing this giveaway. I hope it brings a little joy to your Christmas. Also, all the entries I receive, I am going to double that number and donate that dollar amount, half to the charity of the winner's choice, and half to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, which is important to me.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 23, 2012

30 Days of Thanks

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.  I always love this time of year because I get to cook for the people I love the most! But I do get stressed at the same time because I want everything to turn out great. And it did, thank goodness.

Usually I make the whole Thanksgiving lunch, but this year my sister wanted to make some dishes (stuffing, green bean casserole, corn casserole, and turkey), so I definitely was relieved! I made: ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, brussels sprouts with bacon and walnuts, cornbread, mac 'n cheese, and of course, cranberry sauce.

Ignore the Simpsons table cloth my mom put down. :) Oh, mom.

The pumpkin cheesecake is from Costco, and it is DELICIOUS. I couldn't have made it better, and I am very tempted to go back to get the pecan pie. Maybe next week...

At school the kids also had a fun filled Thanksgiving day before the break. With our reading buddies, we made turkeys out of brown paper sacks filled with rice to make a leftover turkey casserole (which is very good by the way). Thanks to my reading buddy teacher, Happy!

The kids had so much fun and worked really hard on their turkeys! They wrote what they are thankful for on their pumpkins.

Here is the recipe for the casserole.

And here is the final product!
**I feel like this is a 'Where's Waldo' picture :) **

 Speaking of school crafts, my kiddos learned synonyms this past month, and they made their synonym rolls!
They had a great time making them, and also eating their piece of real cinnamon rolls (by the end of the lesson, they kept calling them yummy synonym rolls!). Thanks to Caitlin for the idea!

So I know many people avoided going Black Friday shopping today, and I was definitely one of them. I feel too old and have no energy to push my way through the crowds no matter how cheap the item.
That being said, I am starting to think about Christmas shopping, and what to get everyone. What do you want for Christmas? As for me, anything from Anthropologie is definitely on my list. I love everything about this store. Their clothes are amazing and I always love their dishes, accessories, and candles. However, their knick knacks are something I never really paid attention to (how could I with all the other distractions?) But recently, I saw some cute things at the store:

From the top left clockwise: camera tape dispenser (Ari), notebooks, paper goods, colored pencils + cool paperclips, asian fan made of a map!

On Wednesday my friend and I went to Northpark and went to Paper-source, which was actually my first time going into the store. I know, I know, but all the greeting card stores look the same! But I really liked it and it had cute little things in there. I don't know if it beats papyrus, but I do want to go back and get some things for Christmas. I saw these thank you cards that I just HAD to get:

I taught my kids how to say 'thank you' in some different languages, so now they say it whenever I give hand sanitizer. Their favorites are: gracias, merci, and gomapsumnida (Korean)  :)

On November 1st, I started the 30 Days of Thanks, finding something to be thankful for each day in November. It taught me to really be thankful for everything I have and be thankful in all circumstances. I know the month isn't over, but I wanted to post what I've been thankful for so far (I posted these each day on Facebook):

Day 1: I am so thankful for my parents. Their love and support for me are immeasurable and I know I'm blessed because of them. Love you both.
Day 2: I am thankful for my sister.. Through thick and thin we will always be sisters. Happy birthday unni!
Day 3: I am thankful for EPL and football (soccer).
Day 4: I am thankful for God's grace and love.. That I know where I came from and where I am going.
Day 5: I am thankful for my job. There are so many without jobs and I get to do something I love and am proud of. That being said, 11 more school days until the break! :)
Day 6: I am thankful for my lovely students... Who drive me nuts sometimes, but I still love 'em. ;)
Day 7: I am thankful for couch potato moments. :)
Day 8: Despite a difficult day, I am so very thankful it is Friday tomorrow.
Day 9: I am thankful for migraine-free days.
Day 10: I am thankful for Trader Joe's in my neighborhood :)
Day 11: I am thankful for my apt. My new home :) But knowing that my old home is still waiting in case I need it.
Day 12: I am thankful for amazing co-workers/friends.
Day 13: Very thankful for my heater tonight.
Day 14: Very very very thankful for Korean food! Yum.
Day 15: I am thankful for midnight showings at 10 p.m.
Day 16: On the way home I saw an accident happen, and saw a three car collision near my intersection. So thankful to be safe and sound.
Day 17: I am thankful for days like this where everything was great; time with friends and family, great food, and fun memories.
Day 18: I'm thankful for occasions to cook! Although grocery shopping is quite a feat (and this list is after my sis said she would make 4 dishes). Get ready, wallet.
Day 19: I am thankful for Anthropologie. Period.
Day 20: I'm thankful I'm 90% done with my Thanksgiving grocery shopping.
Day 21: So thankful for days off!
Thanksgiving day: So thankful for another Thanksgiving with my family. I am blessed.

I am so glad I did this. I am going to continue to post on Facebook for the month, and hopefully I continue to find thankful moments each day.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is on my mind! I can't wait!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Color Run 2012

Okay, I can finally cross another thing off my 30 things at 30 list.

One of my coworkers, Kristin, bought a Groupon for The Color Run which is a 5K fun run and partners with charities, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I've never even heard of it, but it sounded like fun so I decided to try it despite having had less than 10 hours of sleep (for 2 days) and no physical activity/training since August.

29. Color Run 11-17-12

It happened downtown at Fair Park. It reminded me so much of the 3 Day Walk because of the tutus, cold weather, and of course the porta potties.

Must wear tutus next year...

The blue stop was CRAZY.

Yea! We did it!

Oh, Caitlin. She looks like a tribute. :)

Charlie's Angels.

In the parking lot, being "candid" :)

After the run, Caitlin suggested this awesome restaurant called Oddfellows in Oak Cliff (Bishop Arts District). This is on the same strip as Tillman's Roadhouse which I went to a few years ago on my birthday.
I was super excited because they have chicken and waffles, which I always wanted to try.
Oh my. Where have I been?

Amazing. The fluffiest waffles. The crispiest chicken. Bobby Flay Throw-down worthy.

I also heard their Buffalo Mac is the best, so I am definitely coming back here.

I am so tired, and I know I'll be sore tomorrow, but it was a great day.
Two more days until Thanksgiving break! Can't wait!

Please check out my lovely friend Caitlin's blog for more awesome photos on the event, which she did with me.