This time of the year, people begin to reflect on how they want their lives to look and what changes need to made. Here’s a post about the rules I once made for myself.


When I turned 30, I made a new list of rules for myself.

  1. No more letting people borrow money that they never pay back!
  2. No more paying for women to have abortions! 
  3. No more accepting collect calls!
  4. No more taking care of other people’s children!
  5. No more feeling guilty and doing things I don’t want to do!
  6. No more going places because other people want me to go!
  7. No more meeting people’s families so they can prove they know me!
  8. I was tired of being the birthday clown. (Yes, people ask for you to come over like I’m a birthday present to someone.  It’s weird)!
  9. No more fake friends.  I’d rather spend my days alone!
  10. No more dating groupies (male groupies are just as bad as women)!
  11. No more driving people around like I’m a taxi!
  12. And last but not least, no more putting other people’s needs in front of my own!

I received an inspirational text from my friend Keeland Ellis that I will never forget. He told me, “Have no friends who do not equal you. Watch those that you don’t know who are always wanting to be with you, and those who are wanting to be like you!”

I wish he would have told me this straight out of high school but he told me on time because not only did I hear every word of it, but I understand it now so I guess that’s an example of God’s time.


Now’s the time to get caught up on all the posts about Christmas and cold weather so far. Let me know which one is your favorite!

  1. It’s Official – I share one of my Christmas traditions with my daughter.
  2. Gingerbread House – Our very special Christmas tradition honoring my grandfather
  3. Make S’mores Outside – Outside equals better than stove
  4. It’s Tembleque Time – Time to shake your way to a delicious dessert
  5. Christmas Tree Time – Christmas decorating details
  6. 30 Christmas Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Under $10 – Need some ideas for how to fill up your child’s stocking?
  7. There’s Nothing Better to Eat When It’s Cold Outside Than A Big Bowl of Sancocho – A soup recipe to warm things up
  8. Gift Giving Anxiety – My solution for dealing with people who are difficult to buy for
  9. It’s Coquito Time! – It’s not eggnog, it’s coquito!
  10. Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows – A delicious crockpot recipe


The Christmas countdown has begun. One of my favorite ways to count down the days until Christmas is to pull out her holiday book collection and read a different one every night. It’s my version of an advent calendar.

People often ask me what program I used to aid my daughter in becoming a strong reader. She was 5 years old reading at a 4th grade level. Now she is 6 years old reading at a 5th grade level. There was no curriculum used and no quick fix. To be honest, it was simply the fact that I have read to her every day of her life. Even when she was in my tummy, I read everything out loud. When she got bigger, I would read to her and point at the words as I was reading. By the time she was 2 years old she was recognizing words and reading them back to me.

Because she is a big reader, I make sure to put seasonal books away so she can’t get to them year-round. This keeps the excitement going for her and the anticipation of rereading some of her favorites. This year I will be pulling out:

Snowy Day

The Nutcracker in Harlem

Too Many Tamales

All Of A Kind Family Hanukkah

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

A Piñata in a Pine Tree

Llama Llama Holiday Drama

Grace of Christmas

Hanukkah Bear

The Night Before Christmas

The Seven Days of Kwanzaa

The history of Kwanzaa

Li’l Rabbits Kwanzaa

All titles can be found on

What are some of your favorite holiday children books or early chapter books?


I remember my grandfather telling me that in the 1800s people started making gingerbread houses in Germany and the tradition came to America with Pennsylvanian German immigrants. I am originally from Duquesne, Pennsylvania, though we are not German, it was a little history lesson I will never forget. Also, one I was happy to share with my daughter at such a young age.

Unfortunately, my grandfather passed in July of 1993, but his memory lives on forever. My daughter and I have made it a tradition every December 9th (his birthday) to make a gingerbread house together in honor of my grandfather Warren Albert Johnson.

My daughter looks forward to making gingerbread houses. Every year we turn on Christmas music, and lay everything out on the table. I am not going to lie every time I try to make fresh gingerbread; we end up eating it. LOL, it doesn’t last long enough to make anything out of it. So, I buy gingerbread kits from the store. You can buy easy gingerbread kits at Five Below, Walmart or even Target. They’re usually under $20.

When I pull it out, she ends up eating more candy than ever goes on the house, but it definitely makes her happy. It’s also a great memory making craft and a time where I share stories about her Great Grandpa.


Making s’mores outside is always more exciting than doing it over the stove in the kitchen. For some reason, my daughter’s excitement builds when we take it outdoors. I’m not much of the camping type, (I will just be honest, I prefer hotels.) so the closest we get is the backyard at night.

Christmas traditions are what my daughter gets most excited about around the holidays. Even more than presents, she wants her family around to do the things she remembers us doing the year before. Her favorite candy bar is a Hershey’s. (I rub it in to her father that it is her Pennsylvanian roots coming out.)

I pull out a few of our favorite Christmas storybooks and read them while everyone makes S’mores. We spend a few hours outside laughing and talking and just enjoying each other’s company.

S’mores pair perfectly with the Cherie’s Crockpot Hot Chocolate recipe, which was posted in October.

1 little fun fact is marshmallows date back to ancient Egypt, they were originally made out of the marsh mellow plant!

This tray I purchased from Etsy store ReclaimandRefurbish for $165.


One of my favorite childhood memories is when my Tia use to make Tembleque around the holidays. Tembleque is a traditional Puerto Rican coconut dessert. It gets its name from the Spanish word “tembla,” which means to shake. So, you know my family has jokes. As we would get ready to eat dessert, the only way we would get it is if… “Yup,” we would shake. For some reason we all thought it was funny, so of course as an adult I have the same sick sense of humor. I make the kids dance before they get a serving.

Who doesn’t love pudding? It’s a pudding that is thickened with cornstarch that results in a slightly firm pudding with a custard texture that has a little jiggle for your wiggle. If you have never had it, you need to try it. Attached is my Tia’s recipe.


4 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup of cornstarch

2/3 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

Ground cinnamon


  1. Wet the inside of six 4-oz ramekin molds, set aside.
  • In medium saucepan combine all ingredients except cinnamon and whisk until well combined. Place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a slow boil and is smooth and thick, about 5 minutes.
  • Pour the pudding into prepared molds. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Enjoy in the ramekin or to unmold, run a thin knife around edge. Invert mold onto serving plate. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Remember to Shake, Shake, Shake!


I tend to put my Christmas decorations out right before or right after Thanksgiving. That way my family has a little bit of time to enjoy all the hard work before I take everything down. I’m a firm believer of let’s celebrate one holiday at a time. It’s hard for me to understand why stores start Christmas decorations before Halloween is even over. I do understand the advertising aspect of people need to see something 25 times before they purchase. It’s a subconscious trick, but it’s a bit much, way too early.

I am a fake tree lover! For a small investment, you have less mess and a tree you can use over and over. I always felt it was sad to cut a tree down just to know it’s dying shortly, after a few weeks. It’s not like you can replant them and reuse them. 

We have four trees in our house. My daughter’s personal Snoopy tree gifted to her by her Uncle Chris before he moved to Thailand.  She loves that tree with its one bright red ornament. She likes to sit it on her piano. Then there are 2 small trees that are about 4 feet tall that go on either side of the TV in the family room and the super large tree that goes in our living room. 

The large tree is a family effort. Everyone chimes in and helps get it decorated, but the smaller trees my daughter takes pride in decorating herself. I actually love it because even though she is 6, she’s had 3 years of practice and is ready to tackle them. It’s also a great activity that will keep her short attention span busy at least for a good hour. 

Keep them busy and teach them to help early on.


I’d like to kick myself in the butt! As a new mother I thought it was so amazing to buy my daughter this oversized Christmas stocking, not realizing that she would be excited about me filling it up year after year. This year has been enough stress for everyone, so I decided I was going to keep it simple.

  1. An Orange for the toe of the stocking
  2. Goldfish Crackers (Should take up a lot of room, go-to snacks I buy anyway)
  3. Nail polish when it goes on sale. I gather fun colors all year long.
  4. Books
  5. Puzzles
  6. Lip balm
  7. Socks
  8. Underwear
  9. Hair bands
  10.  Be Amazing Insta-Snow Jar
  11. Electric toothbrush with a timer
  12. Play-doh
  13. Melissa and Doug Scratch Art Box of rainbow mini notes
  14.  Barbie Dreamtopia Blind Pack Sunrises Mermaid Dolls x4
  15. Stress phone
  16. A little purse
  17. A wallet with a dollar in it (My mom said to never give an empty wallet.)
  18. A prepaid kid’s credit card or a gift card.
  19.  Rolbuck gift card
  20. Mystery pen with black light
  21. Melissa & Doug Family Dinner Box of Questions
  22. Marshmallows
  23. Glow Sticks
  24. Legos
  25. Diary
  26. Gum
  27. GLUE
  28. Shower caps x3
  29. I usually buy 12 toothbrushes with caps for traveling or home. They last all year
  30. Toothpaste


When the temperatures drop below 25°, I’m looking for comfort food. (You can make this recipe at whatever temperature feels cold to you.) Something warm, something satisfying and something with humble roots. I’m not a huge soup person but I love a bowl of Sancocho. Maybe because it reminds me of a simpler time. Maybe because it reminds me of my friend, Michelle. Michelle and I learned how to make this recipe together.

It can be compared to beef stew. Sancocho means stewing in the heat. I don’t have a lot of patience and when I’m hungry, I wanna eat soon. My Tia’s recipe is my favorite.

Tia said growing up they didn’t have a lot of money and my grandfather grew all their vegetables, so the only thing they had to buy at the store was the meat. So, this was a cheap way to keep everyone’s belly full because they always had root vegetables on hand.


3 to 4 tablespoons of Sofrito (I cheat and use Sofrito Goya but will teach you later how to make it from scratch.)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds of top round beef, cubed into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup yellow onions, chopped

1/3 cup green pepper, chopped

5 sprigs of cilantro, chopped *Optional, my mom doesn’t like it.

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 tomatoes

Beef stock if you have it if not, use water and add a little butter

1 green plantain, peeled and slice into 1-inch pieces

1 yellow plantain, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium sweet potato, diced into 1-inch pieces

1 medium yuca

1/2 pound of butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces

3 medium new potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 ears of yellow corn, cleaned and sliced into 6 parts each


                *Marinate beef in sofrito overnight in the refrigerator*

  1. In a preheated Dutch oven or heavy pot over low-to-medium heat, combine olive oil, garlic, beef cubes, and onions, stir until beef is brown on all sides and onions begin to caramelize.
  2. Then add in the tomatoes and cook down.
  3. Add in chopped pepper, cilantro, salt, pepper, and 1 quart of beef stock. Cook down until stock is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir beef, then add all the remaining vegetables and remaining beef stock. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover for 30 minutes.
  5. Uncover and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes or until the stock has reduced some and the meat is tender, and the vegetables are soft. Serve hot.


Speak after me: My words and thoughts are powerful! My tongue speaks truth.

Most people don’t understand what you say is what you receive. You need to understand that. You need to speak kindly about yourself and never be afraid to ask people and the universe for exactly what you want. 

The words “I am” are the most powerful words that will ever come out of your mouth! So, whatever you speak after those, you need to be very mindful. Because whether it’s positive or negative that you speak after the words “I am” is speaking your destiny.

If you can’t speak on what you are worthy of, how do you expect others to be in tune with your heart’s desires? 

5 keys to becoming truly successful are:

  1. Be thankful 
  2. Try daily affirmations 
  3. Purge old or negative energy that doesn’t serve you in a positive way.
  4. Work towards your goals daily.
  5. Change your environment and change your life.

The closest 5 people to you are who you become.

I promise if you do these things, your life will change. You are worthy of all!