Today is Giving Tuesday. A day to give back after we splurge on Black Friday in the stores and online on Cyber Monday. Okay, so maybe you weren’t out trampling other shoppers on Friday and maybe you didn’t peruse Amazon yesterday for deals, but you can still give something today. It doesn’t have to be monetary, and it doesn’t have to be a lot, but a helping hand to an elderly neighbor, a random act of kindness paying for the guest behind you at Starbucks or volunteering for a local charity can go a long way.


I was always grateful to hear of one of the neighbors helping my grandfather, whether it was helping him cut hay, hauling cattle or cutting firewood, it was nice to know that he had company and wasn’t doing all that manual labor on his own (even though he would assure us that he could). And while I’ve never had a stranger pay for my coffee, I do it every once in a while, in hopes that it will brighten someone’s day – and maybe that they’ll pay the gesture forward. I’m lucky that my company offers a day a year to volunteer in the community, as well as matches our charitable giving. One year we painted and cleaned at a new hospice facility and last year I helped sort socks and gloves for a 100% volunteer run charity. Giving doesn’t require a lot of money – or even a lot of time. Every little bit helps – whether it’s money or time.

In honor of Giving Tuesday – here are my top 10 charities to help out:

1. Isabella Santos Foundation – Charlotte, NC

      A kids foundation for Children with Cancer

2. Hands N Feet Foundation – Charlotte, NC

A consistent sense of warmth and comfort for the homeless

3. HopeMatch Organization – Charlotte, NC

Providing Holiday assistance to those in need

4. Hospice & Palliative Care  – Charlotte, NC

Improving the quality of life through hospice care

5. Greater Charlotte SPCA – Charlotte, NC

Helping to save (animal) lives from shelters, bad situations and unwanted homes

6. Ginger’s Fund

Fighting animal cruelty, and saving those who were cruelly treated

7. Dog Days of Charlotte – Charlotte, NC

Saving lives from high-kill shelters, transporting to rescue, boarding/foster until a furever home is found
    *while my husband hasn’t given in to fostering yet, I continue to support this organization in their efforts

8. United Mitochondiral Disease Foundation

There is no cure for this illness but a lot of hope for those who have it. My younger cousin has this disease and we’d love to 
    find a cure. Here’s a story on another child suffering from Mito and her mother’s hope.

9. Pretty in Pink Foundation – North Carolina

Providing financial assistance to support underinsured and uninsured people with breast cancer in North Carolina

10. The Birthday Project (North Texas) or Birthday Wishes (MA, RI, NY)

Giving Birthday parties to homeless children (remember what it was to be a kid on your birthday? Themed parties? Friends?

In addition to these amazing charities (with tax-deductible donations), I always recommend supporting your local agencies for the homeless, battered women, elderly and children in need.

  • ARC – providing care to those with intellectual disabilities in NC
  • Urban Ministry – bringing the community together to end homelessness
  • Charlotte Rescue Mission – helping our homeless
  • Friendship Trays – delivering nutritious meals and a welcome moment to our ailing neighbors
  • Clean the World – not local, but offers hygiene kits to kids in areas of need (clean water!)

Sometimes people just need a helping hand to get back on their feet, or to see that there is still kindness in the world. Today is a great day to show someone that you care.

I shared more than 10 organizations, but I am passionate about all of them. I may not be able to give a ton to each of them, but I can give something to all of them, whether it’s a donation today, an hour here and there, or a Christmas gift for a child in need. I’d love to hear about the organizations that you are passionate about! Please leave a comment to share – and spread the word on social media about #givingTuesday!


“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank


Full to the brim!

This year, we hosted our very first Thanksgiving at our home as a married couple. We celebrated the day with my grandparents, mother, brother, sister-in-law and nephew (and two scavenger dogs).


Our menu consisted of:

  • Fried Turkey
  • Ham
  • Salad with honey goat cheese, cranberries and walnuts
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Green bean casserole
  • Mac N’ Cheese
  • Cornbread stuffing
  • Deviled eggs
  • Gravy
  • Brownies
  • Pumpkin Pie squares
  • Chocolate Chess Pie

Is your mouth watering? Wait until you see the pictures!

My husband fried the turkey. It was not only his first turkey cooking adventure, but first time frying. We started with the marinade the night before all of which he mixed up. On Thursday, he put together the rub and covered the turkey with it and let it set for a few more hours before entering the fryer. At first he thought he had burnt the turkey when it came out but we quickly found out that it was DELICIOUS – and the marinade made it super juicy. Everyone devoured the turkey (almost wish we had bought a little bigger one!).


My Maw Maw brought the ham (and brownies), which she had put a glaze on and of course this country mouse loved the ham. Who doesn’t love ham? I know Thanksgiving is all about the turkey, but I was thankful for ham.


My sister-in-law (above) brought the Mac N’ Cheese and cornbread stuffing. Both were delicious and were much needed starches to the semi-healthy sides I tried to make.


I had apple cider warming when everyone arrived. A simple recipe but was delicious and kept us warm on such a chilly day! Just add cider from a jug in the crockpot, 2 cups of water, 2 cups of rum, 5 cinnamon sticks, 18 whole cloves, zest of an orange and a lemon and cut up an apple in chunks. Bring to a boil and then keep warm while serving. All of our guests (even Maw Maw) enjoyed this warm drink!

My sweet potato casserole was a favorite of everyone. It’s such an easy recipe and is semi-healthy. It calls for 5 medium sweet potatoes (chopped and boiled to soften), mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, sweet potatoes, 3 tbs orange juice, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup low fat margarine together and layer in baking dish. Use marshmallows or pecans to top. Put in oven on 350 for 10-15 minutes or until top is browned.

unnamed-9While the main dishes were amazing, dessert was still (and always is) my favorite part. My husband made Chocolate Chess Pie at 8 A.M. to accompany my pumpkin pie bars (literally pumpkin pie cut into squares) and my grandma’s brownies.

unnamed-10I could not be more thankful for the family that we were surrounded with and the opportunity to spend that time with them. My heart is overflowing with love and gratitude for each and every one of them – including my husband. Not only did he cook, but he did most of the cleaning up post-apocalypse, I mean, post-Thanksgiving dinner. Feeling lucky & thankful to have him by my side, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.

unnamed-11Happy December!