Posts in Entertaining
Chai Tea Cocktail
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This time of year makes me want to have all the hot drinks! It’s alsp probably the biggest drinking season of all. I thought I would combine the two and make a hot cocktail. I made this for some of my friends when they came over and everyone liked it. Sometimes, I have to live up to the Cozy Curator reputation and this cocktail helped since it’s plenty cozy! Plus, it’s so easy!  This cocktail is perfect for Christmas celebrations.

Ingredients (Yields 5 Cocktails):

32 oz Chai Tea Latte Concentrate  (I used Oregon Chai Slightly Sweet)

15 oz Almond Milk (unsweetened)

20 oz Whole Milk

1 cup Whiskey

1 T agave (unless you buy sweetened almond milk & fully sweetened chai tea concentrate, in which case I would forgo this) 

1 T Ground Cinnamon

6 Cinnamon Sticks 

Whipped cream (for topping)

Directions: 

Over a stovetop, combine all of the ingredients except the whipped cream. Heat over low heat until it is hot while continuously stirring.

Pour into mugs & drain out the cinnamon sticks.  

Top with whipped cream and enjoy.  

 

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White Christmas Margaritas
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Every holiday season I’m looking for fun cocktail ideas that aren’t loaded with a ton of sugar (for taste purposes, not splurging purposes because the holiday’s mean you can load up on sugar). Jay loves tequila so I wanted to incorporate that into a recipe, especially since its so rare for Christmas cocktails. These are so festive and taste really fresh!

Ingredients (yields 3-4 cocktails)

10 ounces silver tequila

8 ounces fresh lime juice

8 ounces coconut water (unflavored)

8 ounces coconut milk (I used SO delicious refrigerated)

6 ounces coconut rum

Springs of rosemary and fresh cranberries for garnish, if desired

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients in a large shaker.

Shake/mix thoroughly right before pouring.

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Zucchini Lasagna Roll Ups
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The other night on Instagram stories I was talking about this healthy meal that’s a go-to of mine when I’m craving something hearty and cozy without the pasta. This meal just screams ‘home cooked’ in that way that makes you want to dim the lights and get in your coziest clothes while stuffing your face. However, this option comes without the major guilt. Plus, its surprisingly good (obviously, not as good) when you have it for leftovers the next day. I’m all about doing work that I can get 2 meals out of. In order to get 2 full meals for 2 people out of it, double the recipe!

Ingredients:

4 large zucchini (about 4 pounds)

Sprinkle of salt

Olive oil spray

1 cup fresh spinach

Freshly ground black pepper (1 T)

1 cup part skim ricotta cheese

1/3 cut freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (divided)-I use Raos Arrabbiata sauce for an extra kick

2 cups shredded mozzarella (divided)

Directions:

  1. In the morning, slice your zucchini lengthwise into thin strips (about 1/8 inch thick). Lay the slices flat onto paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt. Lay another paper towel on top of the zucchini. Let is sit for a few hours (or until you make the meal that night) to lose as much water as possible.

  2. Once you are ready to prep the filling, spray a large skillet with olive oil spray and place over medium heat. Sauté the spinach in the pan until it reduces. Set it aside so it can cool down.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese (so 1 cup), spinach, garlic, egg, black pepper, and basil. Stir to combine.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  5. Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce onto the bottom of your baking dish. Set aside.

  6. Spread approximately 1 T of the ricotta mixture onto each zucchini slice and then roll it up and place it inside of the prepared baking dish. Repeat until the dish is filled with the zucchini roll ups. Then, top with the remaining marinara sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese.

  7. Cook in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the lasagna rolls are heated throughout and the cheese is golden brown.

  8. Serve and enjoy immediately!

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Holiday Cards with Basic Invite
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Can you believe that it’s already the time of year to order your holiday cards? I made mine on Basic Invite this year and thought that the process was really seamless. I feel like whenever you try to create something with photos and text, it becomes a disaster but I found the process to be really easy. I also liked that they had plenty of ‘alternative’ options besides the traditional red and gold choices. I like to choose cards that are still ‘on brand’ with my style and I appreciated that I was able to do that. We’re not an ultra traditional couple so I was glad that we were able to create a card that didn’t feel super classic or traditional. They have almost an unlimited variety of color options, so that was super helpful! We are a mixed religion household so keeping it ‘neutral’ is important to us. That being said, Basic Invite has plenty of traditional options as well. They also have cards with beautiful foil details, which I LOVE. They also have cool and retro holiday cards as well as awesome holiday party invitations! Check out the best Christmas cards!

In the interest of keeping it real, I had a hard time when I saw my cards. I created our holiday cards the week before my dad died and when I came back to my apartment for the first time following his death, I had these waiting in the mail for me. It felt absurd to read the words ‘Joyful’ splashed across the top of my cards. It is the opposite of how I have been feeling ever since and I have felt weird about sending them out to friends and family with all that’s been going on. However, I decided to try and look at them as a reminder to choose joy whenever and wherever we can. There are so many reasons to let Joy escape our lives but we can’t let it fully do that. Even while living under the crazy weight of this grief, I know that I still need to find reasons to smile and laugh, even if they are just a tiny drop in the bucket of tears. I know that this holiday season will be extremely hard. I know that there will be a million reasons why I find it to be extremely painful. I also know that I need to open my eyes as wide as I can so that I can seek out any bits of joy that may be scattered around in the midst of the sorrow. When I can’t find it, I know that I will need to create it…even if its just in subtle ways like having a cozy night by the tree with my husband watching a movie. So, this card that I created may not currently speak my truth since I am not ‘Joyful’ but I will hang it up with the reminder to create any tiny shreds of joy that I can and I hope that you will find plenty of reasons to be joyful during the holiday season.

If you are looking to create awesome holiday cards or holiday party invitations, make sure to check out Basic Invite. You won’t be disappointed with the selection! They even offer an address capturing service to make the whole process easier on you. They are running a ton of promotions this holiday season so make sure to check the website for their current promotion. At this moment, they are offering 15% off everything with the code 15FF51. Happy Holidays, friends!

 

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This post is sponsored. However, all thought and opinions are my own.

Celebrate National Spread Joy Day with Knack
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Who else is feeling burnt out from the constant negative news? I dread reading it every day because there is just so much to be sad about in the world. That’s why I love also spending time each day focusing on happy things that are going on in the world! Knack, a really cool online retailer, is doing just that with a new national holiday. The National Spread Joy Day is this Thursday, October 11th!

You can read more about National Spread Joy Day here. Basically, its a really fun holiday where you are encouraged to gift a friend, stranger, WHOEVER a gift box from them. Its all about paying it forward and making other people happy! It's the day to fight back against negativity with positive counter-programming. Knack will give away 1,000 free gifts online worth over $80 each on that day to anyone willing to let them widely publish their gift message as inspiration to others on October 11th. You can go here and send one to someone that you want to make happy!

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This post is sponsored. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Currently Entertained By...

I thought that I'd share what I'm currently loving listening to, reading and watching. I'm sharing my favorite podcast, book series, music album, and TV show of the moment (aka last couple of months). If you watch/listen/read any of them, let me know what you think! I feel like we're all always looking for a solid recommendation and here are mine:

What I'm Listening to:

Podcast: I've been loving Armchair Expert podcast by Dax Shepard. I've always been a fan of his but now am even more so. I love people and getting to know them and their stories. Howard Stern interviews have always been favorites of mine because they really don't have a large agenda and are more so about getting to know someone and their story. Human nature, how we all cope, love, and things like that are my JAM and Dax is in touch with a lot of that and really highlights it in his podcast. I listen to it on the Podcasts application that came on my Iphone (make sure to download episodes while you have WIFI). I will listen to an episode over the course of a couple of days, broken up into little segments. I listen as I'm folding laundry, applying lotion after I shower, cooking dinner, running errands, driving, etc. It's such a great way to stay entertained and engaged during all of the mundane tasks. Plus, for someone who works from home, it helps me feel less isolated during the day (sad but true). My favorite episodes were: Mila Kunis, Mae Whitman, Anna Faris and Jimmy Kimmel. If you're a Parenthood fan (like me), then you will appreciate all of his cast mates interviews! He also does one with his wife, Kristin Bell, which was cool. I've honestly loved all of the ones that I've listened to but that's my highlight reel.

Music: My album of the summer has been Come Tomorrow by Dave Matthews Band. I was raised on DMB and have been a fan since I learned how to talk/sing. My mom is a huge Dave Matthews fan and always incorporated his music into our lives. She was so passionate and would rewind songs and say "did you hear how much he loves her by the tone of his voice?" "did you hear that line, let me play it for you again." Now, I annoy Jay by doing the same things. I have had tears in my eyes more times than I can count from his songs. So many summers of my life are marked by his albums. The songs from them can transport me back in time in an instant. It's so cool how music can mark the timeline of your life like that. I remember the couple of songs that I was obsessed with the summer before my senior year of high school for example and it always puts me back to that moment when I listen to them. I attended his concert every year from the time that I was 11 or so and those also marked the summers in my mind. I've only gone to 1 since my accident and it was so hard on my back that I haven't gone back since but its something that I truly miss SO much. I want to try and find a way to make it work somehow in the future because it feeds my soul. If you haven't listened to this new album, you definitely should! I love the first song to his daughter(s). I also love Can't Stop, That Girl is You, Here on Out, Virginia in the Rain, and When I'm Weary. I really wanted to name them all but controlled myself haha. 

What I'm Reading:

I read the Cold Fury Hockey Series this summer and really liked it. Each book is about a different player on the Cold Fury professional hockey team. I downloaded all of the books as a package on my kindle. They are quick and easy reads that keep you engaged the whole time. I love reading a series because I feel like otherwise you fall in love with characters and then they are just gone from your life. With this series, I was able to keep those characters around because the next book would be about their friends or siblings and the characters from the previous books would make appearances and you'd get updates on what's going on with them. I read for relaxation and to escape so I typically don't read thought provoking books (I'm more likely to listen to those on an Audible or listen to podcasts). Instead, I want to read to escape and turn my mind off (and prepare to sleep). I personally love romance novels but I know they aren't for everyone (especially if you're prude haha). If you're on board with love stories, in this case about professional hockey players, then definitely check it out! 

What I'm Watching:

I feel like we always watch less TV in the summer. We're not really binging a show or setting aside the time to do so. We probably have been watching 1 episode of GOT a week (still catching up) and 1 other episode a week. We've been liking watching My Next Guest Needs No Introduction by David Letterman on Netflix. They are stand alone episodes so it's perfect to watch one here and there when you aren't sitting down in front of the TV frequently. Like the Armchair Expert podcast, he doesn't have much of an agenda of what he has to talk about as the guests aren't really coming on the show with the intention to promote something. I don't think that Letterman is as interesting of an interviewee as Dax because he doesn't divulge much about himself and his own feelings on topics and really just redirects every question that he's asked. Still, he's a legend and is funny. His guests are awesome. My favorite episodes were Jay Z and Obama's. If you like interviews that "go there" then definitely check this out.

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Turmeric Hummus Buddah Bowl
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I'm always looking for healthy dinner recipes to mix it up. I also like recipes that I can easily use the leftovers for lunches. All about killing 2 birds with one stone! In fact, I killed 3 birds because I also used some of the roasted veggies in a Mexican salad the following night. Technically, I killed zero birds because this meal is vegan! The turmeric hummus is an awesome way to add some turmeric into my dinner in a way that makes sense. I started taking a turmeric supplement daily because its supposed to help with inflammation (I also take flaxseed oil supplement for this reason and try to eat a lot of flaxseed as well). However, I try to work it into my diet as well. I even doubled the hummus recipe and froze half of it, which I don't think was necessary in hind sight because it was so easy to make. I had turmeric hummus at a farm in Ibiza this summer and its amazing how quickly tastes can transport you back to a moment in time so that was a nice plus as well! 

Turmeric Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15.5 oz) of chickpeas (drained but WITH LIQUID RESERVED)

  • 3 T olive oil

  • 2 T reserved liquid from chickpea can

  • 1 T tahini

  • 2/3 t turmeric

  • 1/4 t nutmeg

  • 1 large clove of garlic

Directions:

Drain the chickpeas but preserve the liquid and set it aside

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Blend for longer if you want it thinner and more whipped. 

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Buddah Bowls (Yields 4-6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes

  • 1 bunch of pencil asparagus

  • 1/2 yellow onion

  • 3 zucchini

  • 4 Japanese eggplants

  • 1 bag (4 cups) of shredded brussel sprouts

  • 4 cups of shredded kale

  • 1/2 cup avocado oil

  • 2 t dried garlic

  • 2 t dried lemon zest

  • 2 t black pepper

  • 1 t salt

Directions:

Cut the sweet potatoes, Japanese eggplant and zucchini into long 1/2 inch strips

Cut the onion into rings

Sautee the brussel sprouts with a little bit of olive oil and a combination of the seasonings over medium heat until they start to brown

While the brussel sprouts are cooking, coat the other vegetables in avocado oil and season them

Place the sweet potatoes, Japanese eggplant, zucchini, asparagus and onion on a hot grill and cook until they begin to brown a little bit

While the vegetables are grilling, place the shredded brussel sprouts and kale in the bottom of your bowl

Top the salad base with all of the roasted vegetables and the hummus and enjoy!

 

 

 

Mexican Street Corn
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Grilling season has begun! Yay! I love grilling up on our rooftop or on our patio. It's great to be able to incorporate some of my summer 'go-to's into my meal planning because I feel like I exhausted all of my winter regulars. I love some fresh corn on the cob when its grilled...doesn't it taste like summer?! This Mexican Street Corn recipe elevates corn on the cob in the best way. I usually use some guacamole on our burgers/veggie burgers to tie in the Mexican theme in an easy way. Whenever I see cojita cheese at the grocery store in the summer, I buy it so that I can make this awesome recipe!

Ingredients:

6 ears of corn, husked

1 cup plain greek yogurt (you can use half sour cream and half mayonnaise as a substitution if you want it richer)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon chili poweder

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 cup cojita cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

Directions:

Heat grill so it reaches 400 degrees or so

In a bowl, whisk together the greek yogurt, garlic, chili powder and lime juice

Grill the corn until the edges start to brown a little (approximately 3 minutes on each side)

Using a brush, coat the corn with the yogurt mixture

Top with crumbled cojita cheese and cilantro

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Sweet Potato Hash Skillet
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You guys know that one pan meals make my heart happy. My biggest deterrent for cooking is the clean up...anyone else?! That’s why I’ve LOVED my cast iron skillet and legit crockpot (linked at bottom of post). They can both go from stovetop to inside of the oven and the crockpot insert can obviously also go into the crockpot base for slow cooking. 

I’ve been making variations of this sweet potato skillet for breakfast for my guy (I don’t eat straight up eggs) and he LOVES it. It’s all real food and so nutritious. I've also added black beans and ground sausage at various times when I've made variations of this. I also recently swapped the avocado for guacamole and the hot sauce for salsa and it went over really well! Try it out and let me know how you like it! 

INGREDIENTS: 

3 sweet potatoes

1/2 a yellow onion

1 bell pepper  (red is my favorite but do whichever you like best)

1 T olive oil  

6 eggs  

1/2 cup shredded colby cheese  

1/2 an avocado

2 green onions (can easily be omitted) 

Hot sauce for topping  

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Peel the sweet potatoes and then dice them into 1 inch cubes.  

Dice the onion and bell pepper. Slice the avocado into thin slices. Dice the green onion into 1/2 inch circles.

Heat the cast iron skillet over medium heat and place the olive oil, onion, sweet potato and bell pepper in it. Cool until the onions turn translucent. 

Place the cast iron skillet into the oven for 25 minutes (you want the sweet potatoes to get soft enough to eat). 

Remove the skillet from the oven and crack the eggs on top of the vegetables. Then, sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes or until the eggs are no longer runny.  

Remove skillet from the oven and top with avocado slices, green onion and hot sauce. Enjoy!

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TV Shows I've Loved Recently
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Unfortunately, I have to spend a lot of time laying down instead of out doing stuff. Luckily, I don't mind laying on the couch at night with some candles lit, a snack, and a good show on tv though. When Jay is down to massage my feet too, that's the ultimate, but it usually lasts for a solid minute and then he just starts pulling on my toes haha. Who actually likes that?!

Point is, cozy nights binge watching a show can be awesome. I love binge watching a show because it keeps you hooked. I prefer it to watching movies or watching a show scattered, how about you? Here are the best things that I've watched recently. P.S. Billions isn't on this list because I've been watching it for a while but the newest season just started and if you don't watch it, you should definitely start it from the beggining and catch up!

Game of Thrones

I know I'm late to the game on this one but I started it late this fall and I got hooked. I watched one episode years ago and only understood who was having sex with who so I wrote it off. I have had zero issue following along with the show though since I've been watching it. Still, its easiest to figure out whose sleeping with who haha but its not hard to follow once you understand who everyone is. It's an HBO series...HBO, Showtime and Netflix are kind of my jams. It's definitely dark and on nights I'm in a lot of pain sometimes I'm just not feeling it and want something lighter so I've looped in some of these other ones. 

Grace & Frankie

This was another show that my mom and I binged on Netflix while I was recovering at her house. It's a Netflix series with short episodes and its a very light watch. The target audience is definitely older than me but I thought that it was really funny and cute and lighthearted. It's about 2 women in their 60s whose husbands tell them that they aren't actually just best friends and have actually been lovers for many years and that they want to get divorced form their wives so that they can marry each other. Their adult kids are in it as well, which I like and definitely helps bridge the age demographic I was talking about haha. 

Friends From College

This is another Netflix series that only has one (short) season so far. It's about a group of friends from college who are now in their 30s and living in Manhattan. There's affairs, job qualms, infertility struggles, marriage stuff, and all that jazz. I thought it was really funny in that dry sort of way. I really like the cast, especially Keegan Michael Key! It only has 8 episodes so far so its a really quick watch.

My Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman

I'm a big fan of Howard Stern's interviews because unlike interviews on talk shows, they really take their time and dive into stuff. This series on Netflix that David Letterman is doing is the same. It feels like there's no agenda of something to promote and they really go deep. It would be such a dream (in the unachievable, I'm not even in a realm of being good enough at it way) to conduct interviews like this. I love how the conversation just takes them wherever it naturally goes and how he asks 'real' questions that provoke 'real' answers. These interviews really allow you into the guests' mind and let you see things from their perspective and hear about their story. It's almost like if therapy only involved the interesting stuff haha. They also talk on worldly topics and important issues but in a way that is far from boring. My favorite episodes that I've watched thus far (I still need to watch more) are Obamas, Jay-Z, and George Clooney. 

Tamborine by Chris Rock

This is Chris Rock's latest Netflix comedy special. I like watching a comedy special on a Saturday night when we are staying in because it feels a little bit like you're out at a comedy show and its different than just watching something else on TV. I didn't love the beginning of this series but then it really picked up. Obviously, it all depends on what topics you like but I was cracking up all of the stuff about men versus women and relationships. He talked about why he got divorced and the things that he wishes he did differently (which I majorly respected and liked) but in a really funny way. The series is named Tamborine because he says that he wanted to be the lead singer in his relationship the whole time and that it doesn't work like that. Sometimes you get to play lead and sometimes you have to "play the tamborine mother fucker." I LOVE comedy because it takes these simple things that other people would just look right past and makes them profound. I love comedy that touches on the obvious in a way that makes you feel like "duh" and is so relatable that it's hilarious. I am not good at science or math, I had to work really hard to get a score that I was really happy with for the SATs and all of that but I am smart in a couple of ways. One of those ways is that I have high emotional intelligence, self awareness, and empathy. Comedians tend to have this kind of intelligence (combined with darkness haha) and I feel like they slam dunk it when they hit on human nature so perfectly or play on their self awareness in such a unique way. I though that he did such a good job at that with this special. I know that Louis C.K. has taken some heat for some creepy sh** that he's done but his specials always hit these things right on the nose as well. 

Brothers & Sisters

I watched this YEARS ago when it was live (and missed a lot of it because I was at college and didn't have DVR). I loved it and was upset when it was canceled. I asked a few months ago what you guys recommended that I watch while I recovered from surgery. My favorite recovery show that I ever watched was Parenthood (so much so that I watched the entire series twice, both during recoveries haha). Someone recommended that I watch Brothers & Sisters but I was like "I've seen that." After trying out multiple shows and not liking any of them, I decided to give it a whirl. Guess what, I remembered close to nothing haha. It was brand new information basically and I loved it. Like Parenthood, its one of those shows that makes you feel like you're a part of the family on the screen. Its more dramatic and extreme than Parenthood though. Its about adult children and their parents (Sally Fields plays the mom and crushes it) and all of the crazy stuff that happens in their family. Needless to say, I miss my brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, I had to purchase the episodes on Apple TV.

 

Margaritas with Vita Coco
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You know I love getting festive for a holiday and the obvious choice for Cinco de Mayo is Margaritas!! These margaritas are not so obvious though. They have a twist but still remain pretty classic tasting. They are made with fresh, real ingredients, which helps keep the sugary taste to a minimum. I used Peach & Mango flavored Vita Coco water not only because it tastes good but also to help avoid a hangover for everyone who is throwing these back. Coconut water is really hydrating so it helps counterbalance the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Get your tacos ready...

Recipe

Ingredients:

3 ounces fresh lime juice

4 ounces Peach & Mango Vita Coco coconut water

4 ounces silver tequila

1/2 teaspoon agave

Directions:

Juice your limes. Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker and shake to combine. Stir the agave with a spoon if necessary. Pour over ice and enjoy!

 

Mother's Day 2018 Gift Guide
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Mother's Day is only a couple of weeks away so it's time to prepare and get the gifts ready! I know that there is no object that I can buy that can repay my mom for all that she has done and continues to do for me but the gesture is always appreciated. She's the first person to give everything and ask for nothing and holidays like this are the perfect times to get her something nice. I also always value a good hand written note in a card, so I linked some of my favorites at the bottom of this post as well. I separated out the items into 2 sections: items under $100 and items over $100. 

In celebration of Mother's Day, here are 3 of my (many) favorite things about my mom...

She is infinitely selfless. If I compliment her on a necklace she will literally take it off and hand it to me. She puts all of us before herself without even blinking an eye. I say that she is selfless to a fault but it's such an admirable quality.

She is the definition of maternal warmth. She just has a kind heart and loads of affection. She always makes me feel safe, supported and loved. Every stranger in the grocery store line ends up telling her their life story because she just radiates loving energy. 

She is a 'forever student,' who is constantly growing and learning new things. She follows her heart and is a jack of many trades. In fact, she was a Social Worker for years, an interior designer and is now a talented photographer and the woman behind most of the images that I'm in. Check out some of her work here

Gifts Under $100

Gifts over $100

Cards