Monday, January 31, 2011

Fantasy Shopping Trip: Baking Edition

I love online shopping because I can window shop and put all sorts of stuff in my in my cart, but don't feel pressured to buy anything. Today, I shopped at William Sonoma and here's what I found:

And THAT should just about do it for now :)
Sigh... Someday...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Look, Mom! I MADE an Ice Cream Cake!

Yep, I made it! 
I bought myself some special Wilton pans (only $14 at Kroger) and made plain old white cake and a little bit of red dye.

After letting it chill in the freezer for a day, I mixed 1 container Cool Whip and 1 container vanilla ice cream and filled it out.

After assembling the cake and decorating it, this is how it turned out:


I served it at my very first dinner party with my staff and it was a hit.

Love Letters on FTLOB

 If you don't already know about it, For the Love of Blogs (or FTLOB) is a really great resource for bloggers, so go check it out. 

Today they announced that they are going to do love letters for their February Feature.

I'm excited both to write mine and read other ones. 
Are you game?


Also, if you're feeling super friendly, I would love it if you would want to nominate me for blog of the month on FTLOB! :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bowling and Such

I can't believe it's ALREADY Thursday.
I'm exhausted.
I had a drunk student who was fighting with a police officer in the middle of the night last night and I've been exhausted all day, but for some reason right now I can't sleep. 

I'm hoping blogging will help?

Anyway, check out some of these pictures to see what made my last weekend especially fun.

Dance Party

Mexican food

Having "Brinner" (Breakfast + Dinner) with friends

Bowling with Star Wars themed names.
Yes. My friends and I are that cool. 

One of my BFFs!

More bowling. This frame was Disney themed. I was Nala.

Plus a lot of things that weren't documented, but it was great. :)

I have my very first dinner party with my staff tomorrow night and I'm excited! 
I decided to go Italian for dinner and serve a homemade ice cream cake for dessert.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Personality Test

As part of my new job, I've had to participate in a lot of (very long) staff orientation meetings, but they've been surprisingly fun.

My favorite one was about communication and in it I (re)took the Myers Briggs test and remembered why I think these tests are so cool. I just think the concept of understanding self and how that translates into effective communication is fascinating, but I digress.

I found that I am an ENFP.

Extrovert (28)
Intuition (9)
Feeling (26)
Perceiving (3)

Here's a quick description:
  • Curious, creative and imaginative
  • Energetic, enthusiastic and spontaneous
  • Keenly perceptive of people and of the world around them
  • appreciative of affirmation from others; readily express appreciation and gives support to others
  • Likely to value harmony and goodwill
  • Likely to make decisions based on personal values and empathy with others
  • Usually seen by others as personable, perceptive, persuasive an versatile 
After discussing my personality a little bit more, but and I was happy to learn that, professionally at least, I've learned to compensate for my weaknesses like my tendency to feel a little bit scattered, have trouble saying "no," thus feeling over committed and work with deadlines--which was very encouraging. It surprised me that most of my previous supervisors all described me as detailed oriented and well organized, even though that's not naturally my thing. 

I really enjoy looking into my personality and other people's personality and  seeing how they fit together for a greater story. I love it. 

Interested in learning a little bit more about yourself? 

Let me know what you got!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Unique Valentine's Day Cards

I have been so busy with work lately and have missed my blog over the past few day! 
However, I'm back and have been enjoying catching up!

This past week I've been learning a lot and working, working, working, but I did have a chance to have some fun this weekend, but I'll blog about that later. 
In the mean time, look at these cute non-traditional cards I found for Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Favorite New Food Blog

I just pulled some hot organic banana bread out of the oven and it is delicious!

While making it was in the oven I discovered my new favorite food blog:

Maybe you're cooler than me and are already know all about it, but take a look around and check out these yummy recipes!

Some encouragement

Today I was clicking through a few blogs, waiting for J. L. to come over and visit with me and I was struck by how many happy faces I saw. Whether they belonged to brides in beautiful white dresses, giggling babies or a few girlfriends sharing stories over a cup of coffee, I found myself feeling sincerely happy for all of these souls that I have never even met. When I first started my blog, I used it only as a form of self expression and a way to help find my writing voice. However, I wasn't expecting to enjoy reading the blogs of other women and begin to feel a sense of global sisterhood/share in the celebration of female expression. My favorite posts are always about relationships (all kinds), about women really pushing to grow beyond what they're expected to do or be and/or well written blogs, or artistic pictures, of women celebrating what it is to be a woman. It's exciting to me to see God's children just enjoying life--myself included!

However, after I overheard a conversation between two students, the obvious occurred to me: not everyone who blogs is probably in a season of heath, wealth and happiness. In the real world, sometimes life really sucks. In fact, it occurred to me that some of us may not only be having a "rough day," but that some if not most of us are experiencing extremely difficult situations like feeling the pain that comes from lonliness, loss or even abuse. 

Please know that if you are in a season of feast, my heart is so happy for you, I really do hope that it continues for you and know that the words below are meant for you as well. But if you're at the end of your rope or you just feel like you're alone in whatever your situation you find yourself in at this moment, I want to take a moment to let you know that the following statements are unconditionally true:
  • You are loved whether you know it or not. 
  • Your ability to perform or be accepted or even your the way you look has absolutely nothing to do with your worth.
  • If you're hurting, you only need to reach out. I promise you're not alone.
  • If anyone is treating you like anything less than a the Child of God you are, know that you don't deserve it and that you deserve better. 

Nicole Jeannette

Monday, January 17, 2011

Now taking Sponsors for February

Hello all!

Sounds of Laughter, Shades of Life is now accepting sponsors for the month of February!
Click to the right to learn more!

Email me at 
or click the button to the right! 

My Lovely Weekend

This weekend was jam-packed, but very wonderful!

Beginning on Thursday night which is not the weekend, I know...

During Battle of the Blvd., Belmont beat our big rival 88-52. It was great!!

Friday night we celebrated a birthday with a friend at the oh-so-tasty Burger Up.

Saturday morning I had breakfast with a childhood friend at a local coffee shop.
She's moving back to Colorado and we wanted to have at least one girl date before she left.
Shelly was wonderful and I really regret not having spent more time with her while she was here, but we both always seemed to be so busy! 
It was still fun catching up with her, though!
That afternoon a few of my students and I went to Second Harvest Food Bank for an MLK Service Project. We enjoyed getting to know each other better while sorting food for a few hours.
Did you do anything for MLK Day? 

I successfully pulled off a surprise party for J.L.! It was his birthday last weekend and I got a big group of friends to P.F. Changs and then back to my place where we enjoyed boston cream pie cupcakes (delicious and surprisingly easy) and games.
We had a bunch of fun.

THEN, yesterday, I met a few of my cousins for the very first time. 
My dad's side of the family isn't super close, but I really love family and was really happy to meet them.
I enjoyed them so much and loved it!

These are my cousins!

Look at my cute dad (right) and my uncle :)

Whimsical Poppysmic Winner!

And the winner of the Whimsical Poppysmic giveaway is...

Diana at exPress-o!

Congratulations Diana!

Thanks to Whimsical Poppysmic for being a sponsor for Sounds of Laughter, Shades of Life and sponsoring this awesome giveaway! 
Hope you're all enjoying your MLK day!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dog Sitting!

Jennifer and I enjoyed caring for FOUR, yes FOUR, little dachshunds this past weekend!
My former landlady had to leave town and we thoroughly enjoyed taking care of her little dogs!

Words cannot begin to express how much we enjoyed this. 
How about you?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Pick-Me-Up

I don't know about you, but I've been SUPER busy so far this week! 
Still loving the new job and I've LOVED having my students around. 
They're really great and it makes me feel excited for my job as well as feel like my work is significant. 
Very encouraging :)

THAT being said,
it's Thrusday.

I'm reaaaady for the weekend.
Aren't you?

Well, I thought I'd share one of my favorite pick-me-ups.
This song reminds me of my childhood and so many happy memories, but also reminds me of what's really important in life--planting relationships.
Thanks, Hanson!

You have so many relationships in this life
Only one or two will last
You go through all this pain and strife
Then you turn your back and they're gone so fast
And they're gone so fast
So hold on to the ones who really care
In the end they'll be the only ones there
When you get old and start losing your hair
Can you tell me who will still care?
Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose
You can plant any one of those
Keep planting to find out which one grows
It's a secret no one knows
It's a secret no one knows
no one knows

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today we're gonna do something a little bit different.

I realize this is not a "fun" post, but it's about an issue that is near and dear to my heart and I feel is beyond imperative to share with you. In fact, I really feel that for someone to know me, they need to know that I care about this more than I could ever begin to express. So, please take the time to read about what I feel is truly the greatest violation of human rights of our time. Ready? This one is about:
Human Trafficking
also know as

I found out recently that 99% of people don't even KNOW about the existence of human trafficking and I decided that I will NOT let me readers contribute to that statistic.
Before we get into the facts, I want to encourage you and tell you that YOU have the power to change the world, to love your neighbors and to FREE SLAVES by using your voice. Knowledge is the first step and I pray that you'll take that first step to help join the fight by reading this post. 

What is human trafficking?
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime human trafficking is defines as follows:

Trafficking in Persons is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Slavery? That doesn't happen anymore, does it?
Well, I wish the answer was no, but it happens not just in dirty little third world countries, but in literally every country on the globe -- including the United States of America. In fact, it happens in your back yard.

How many people are we talking here?
Right now there is a conservatively estimated 27 million people enslaved in the world--forced to work slave labor, have organs removed, or work as a sex worker against their will. 27 MILLION. Think about that for a minute. It's also estimated that there are over 200,000 women (most of them minors) working as sex workers against their will. Often sex workers are forced to perform in live sex shows, turn as many as 30 tricks a night and/or create pornography. These people are treated as commodities and are thrown away when no longer "useful" to traffickers.

Who gets trafficked?
Literally every "type" of person is and can be trafficked. Those who are most vulnerable to trafficking are children and those living in poverty--however, young girls from nice neighborhoods are victimized as well. 80% of slaves in the world are female and 50% of all slaves are CHILDREN. Statistics show that with in 48 hours of running away from home a child will encounter a trafficker. Most other victims are abducted (these stories happen far more often than you think) or tricked into a lifestyle they don't want and can't leave. 

Who makes money in trafficking?
The people who profit from human trafficking are mostly organized crime members. In other words, the primary monetary benefactors are either in gangs, in the mafia, sometimes policemen, or, although more rarely, criminals disguised as small "business" owners. In fact, the slave trade brings in $3,000,000,000 a year (that's three billion) and is the fastest growing illegal sales trade second only to drug trafficking. (Yes, there is more money made in people selling men, women and children than illegal weapons.)
    How do I spot a victim of human trafficking?
    Pretty you haven't encountered this? Well, the sad fact is that unless you've been living under a rock, you probably have encountered slavery, yes, in your nice little town and could have done something about it. Click HERE to learn more about spotting victims.

      What can you and I do to stop trafficking?
      The good news, in fact, the shining light among all of this seemingly debilitated 
      • Program this number into your cell and CALL IT if you see anything suspicious  
      • Stop buying products made by slaves
      • This is BIG ONE: Focus on perpetrators - Johns.
      • Get educated (reading the book Not for Sale or watching the movie Taken is great places to start!)
      • Take a stand against pornography (yes, even "willing" participants significantly contribute to the demand for trafficking) and other forms of sexual exploitation
      • Tell you representatives you care about ending human trafficking
      • Share THIS ARTICLE with your husband, male friends and other guys you know
      • Talk to you kids about it
      • Join or start a local abolitionists group
      • Don't be quite
      Check out other resources:
      Not For Sale
      International Justice Mission
      Polaris Project 

      And I thought I'd throw this in here because I think this woman, who was once a victim herself, is a true hero and someone I look towards for inspiration.

      So, I write and share all of this not to be a downer (for, in all honesty our blogs focus on the fun, pretty things in life and rarely dwell on the ugly things in life) but to upset you enough to inspire you to do something to help end trafficking. I hope you're outraged enough to save a life. I hope you'll take some time to learn more and do whatever you can, big or small, to spread awareness and help end the absolute travesty that is human trafficking. Consider the stories of the men and women above. What if it was you? What if she was your child? What would you like a woman sitting in her comfy home to do about your suffering?

      "Modern day slavery is only exists because we choose to ignore it."

      Monday, January 10, 2011


      Ladies and Gents, 
      Meet Chrissy from Chrissy in America!
      Chrissy and her family are from Germany, but for the last two years she, her husband, sweet daughter, doggy and kitty have enjoyed living in the suburbs of Chicago!
      She only started blogging in September and after being inspired by the oh-so-crafty ladies of the blogging community, her desire to craft overwhelmed her!
      Chrissy is a talented craftswoman and enjoys knitting, felting, sewing, stitching and embroidering. 
      And thus...
      (dun da da DA)
      (The cute name was inspired both by the movie "Love Happens" and her love of owls!)


      She has been kind enough to do the first giveaway of 2011 on my blog!

      To enter:
      Be a follower of Sounds of Laughter, Shades of Life and simply leave a comment!

      You can get an extra entry for following Chrissy at Chrissy in America.

      Get an EXTRA entry for going to Whimsical Poppysmic and telling me what your favorite item is!

      Winner will be randomly selected on January 17th and will win these super cute items:

       Cute cozy for your iPhone, iPod or Blackberry! How cute!

       Owl brooch! How cute!

      Good luck! :)

      Saturday, January 8, 2011

      Blog makeover!

      Hey Ladies!

      I hope you're having a lovely Saturday afternoon like I am! 

      I'm so happy to announce that Lindsay at Scenic Glory has graced Sounds of Laughter, Shades of Life with her talents by giving it a makeover!

      What do you think? Don't you love the header? She's so talented and has been a pleasure to work with the past few weeks.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

      God Bless!

      Thursday, January 6, 2011

      On our way home

      J. L. comes back on Monday and I've missed him terribly over this incredibly long Christmas break.
      I'm excited to have these moments again.