Sunday, October 6, 2019

Ending 2019 with Some SEO for Mom

Hi everyone!

I originally wrote about this post in January of 2017, but with the end of 2019 near, I felt it was a topic that deserved a revisit, because a New Year always brings new opportunities.  This post has been on my heart for a while, but it just seemed like this was the right time to share it with you.

Usually when people think of the acronym SEO, Search Engine Optimization comes to mind.  In fact, being a computer science professor, you would think that is what I would think of first as well.  However, I am not your normal computer science professor and as such, for me SEO has a different meaning.  For several months now when I have thought of SEO, Soul Enhancement & Optimization have come to mind.  Puzzled a bit?  Well let me explain. 

Yes, search engine optimization has helped us in terms of how we travel throughout the Internet, but as a mom I also want to optimize how I travel through life.  It isn’t easy being a mom in today’s fast paced world and a single mom at that.  So as I prepare to teach my own students about the Internet, this idea of Soul Enhancement & Optimization just keeps coming to mind.

Webster defines the soul as follows. 

The spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever; a person’s deeply felt moral and emotional state; the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc.

To enhance something is to “increase or improve,” while optimization is “an act, process, or methodology of making something as fully perfect, functional or effective as possible.”  For the record, this mom knows she can never be “fully perfect” on this side of eternity, so that part of the definition I did not factor in. 

Though as a single mom and a computer science professor with a strong relationship with the Lord, the researcher within wants to dive in and investigate this concept that has been on my mind for a couple of months a bit further.  How, as a mom can I experience “Soul Enhancement & Optimization?”  With my background firmly rooted in academia at a Christian institution, I had to start with the definitions and as a student of life, acronyms always seem fitting.

Anyone who knows me knows how deeply and emotionally I feel about things in my life.  As a creative person, beauty and art are things that I observe in places that quite often others do not see.  But is this just something that I was gifted with or do some people miss out on art and the beauty that surrounds them because of life’s circumstances.  Let’s face it, there is not a single mom out there that hasn’t been so overwhelmed with life at some point that they didn’t want to just tell me, “Girl, observe beauty???  I have forgotten what that even means in the midst of bills, homework and life.”  Even in the midst of my own life it would be so easy to throw in the towel and block beauty out. Sometimes as moms, not just single moms but ALL moms, we get so busy trying to take care of everyone and everything around us to the point that we don’t know which way is up and if we do look up we often aren’t praying to Jesus, but merely expressing “Help me Jesus!” just trying to survive.  We remember what a soul was, but we have forgotten what it truly meant to feel something from the depth of our souls.  But how can we find our way back?  How can we ENHANCE the seeds that were planted within our souls before life became too much.        

As a mom, how can I improve my life so that I am using the gifts that God has blessed me with in such a way that it enhance my kids’ lives and the lives of those around me?

Let’s revisit the definition of optimization once more. It is “an act, process, or methodology of making something as fully perfect, functional or effective as possible.” 

So wait a minute here, if we can figure out how to take what we once valued so dear within our souls and enhance it, could it be that in turn, through the very act of doing this that we could become more functional and effective as moms?  Would this work for all moms?  Is there an age limit? 

Well let me share my own experience with you and then you can pick and choose what may or may not work for you. 

When I originally wrote this post I wrote of coming down with the shingles. For those of you who may not know what that is, it is the same virus as chicken pox, but very, very painful.  I am normally one who is moving through life so fast my best friend often tells me that it’s like my hair is on fire.  In the past year my family has gone through a life experience that has changed us forever and those who have followed our journey. Sometimes not so good things in life happen, not because we have done anything wrong, but merely so the Lord can slow us down and get out attention.  For our souls to truly experience an enhancement and thus optimization we have to lean in to the trials of life so that we can find the beauty in the midst of the chaos.  

Sometimes, in the midst of dealing with pain and uncertainty we are able to hear the gentle whispers that He sends to our souls and in turn we are enhancing our lives and watching every second of our day optimized, but not just for our sake.  It is through this process that He is allowing us to be a light for others in the midst of their own personal trial.  It also allows us to be examples for our kids and it has allowed by kids to be incredible examples to others. 

 The beauty of this all - when we are truly leaning into life through prayer, the study of His word, giving & doing for others when He leads us, participating in worship, and reading books by other Christian authors who have done the same, we do see that are souls have gone through an enhancement and optimization.  This doesn’t mean that it makes the pain of the trials any less, but what it does allow us to do, moms and dads alike, is take a deep breath and know that NO MATTER what comes our way, He will allow us to use it in a way to glorify Him.   

So as the end of 2019 draws near, I am leaning, dedicated to my own SEO experience. As new doors open and new opportunities appear I want to make sure that God gets all of the credit for the incredible things He has done and continues to do in my life.  The New Year will be here before we know it, time flies by so quickly, but it also reminds us once again to make every second count. 

Until next time…


Monday, September 23, 2019

Adding Color to My World

Hi everyone,

I have had so much fun in the Mood Board Challenge I just finished, I decided to step back a bit and make one for Curiosity Cottage. If I am going to see where I am going I think I need to reflect on where I have been, analyzing the colors and words that represent Curiosity Cottage. I am a work in progress, as are my different Mood Boards.

As creatives our minds can go in a million directions at once. Having both the creative & technical skills makes that more like a bazillion directions at once for me. It is a fun and exciting time for me as I plan out the steps I will take on this next journey in my life, but one that I am so ready for!!

Have a wonderful Monday!!


Editorial Note - the magnolia image is a stock image, only intended as part of an exercise for the Mood Board Challenge, all other images are mine or came from my own website. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Change is Good

Hi everyone,

I am taking a course in which we create a "Mood Board" for our brand that will then be used on a website or blog. I am also teaching my students about "crowd sourcing" so I would like for you to vote.
Several weeks back I took a pole and two names tied, "The Jubilee Bee" and "Life at Curiosity Cottage" I have decided to combine the two. My new site will be  
The Jubilee Bee
my life at Curiosity Cottage

Many of you have followed my journey since I first created Curiosity Cottage, so I thought it would be fun to have you vote. Which Mood Board/color scheme do you like best? You may either comment on my post to vote, or head over to my Curiosity Cottage Facebook page!! VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!!

I look forward to sharing the results with your soon and letting you come along on this journey with me!! Thanks so very much for you input & for taking the time to help me create a lesson for my class.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Baking My Bundts Off

Hi everyone!

Spring Break is FINALLY here and Easter is just around the corner, so I am using my week to take on several projects. In January I stumbled across some INCREDIBLE Nordic Ware Bundt pans and I have been having a ball baking for my friends and family.

My Louisiana roots made Nordic Ware's Fleur De Lis Bundt Pan a MUST buy!! I have scoured Pinterest for recipes, asked  friends for ideas, and sent my creations out into the world for my friends and family to enjoy! I have discovered several things with this new found hobby. For starters, I have learned that you can make a cake and it can sit on your counter for days and you do not have to consume it all. Second, if you are diabetic, you can taste wonderful things...the key is to have them in moderation. Creating cakes from scratch...well you can just taste the love in the homemade. I have also found that when you bake from scratch it does not make blood sugar spike like the box mixes do. It is true that different foods tend to impact those of us with diabetes in different ways, but this is what I have found works for me. My daughter likes to tell me, "You do you mom." Well baking these cakes is teaching me to take it one creation at a time.

For this milk chocolate bundt cake I decided to try a coffee glaze. Community Coffee's King Cake flavor seemed to be the PERFECT fit, once again drawing on my Louisiana roots!! This time though, my years spent living in Bavaria, made Nordic Ware's Bavaria Bundt Pan another must have! I absolutely loved the years I spent in Bavaria, so teaching the kids about where they were born and the Louisiana roots of their family is always fun and makes for a festive time.  
With each new cake I am learning new things about baking, trying new ideas, and allowing the process to slow down my life a bit. For example, when making a cake from scratch the order and process that must be followed is critical. I even came across a recipe recently that made sure to state that the process of creaming the butter and sugar should not be rushed. We have become such a fast paced society that the idea of slowing down or it could impact the outcome of something we are creating...well let's face it, we really don't give that much thought any more. We look at prep time, but do we ever stop to think about what we learn in the process when we are prepping food? While I carefully added one ingredient after the other into one of my cakes I could not help but think of the perfectly orchestrated steps God has for our lives, steps that sometimes we want to rush through or skip all together. Often times we want the prepacked, processed product to yield a homemade taste. In other words, we do not stop to savor each layer that He adds to our lives. Each lesson He is bringing our way shapes us and mold us, and turns us each into the beautiful creations that He designed for us to be.

Baking and teaching my kids to entertain made Nordic Ware's Heritage Bundt Pan a piece that not only allows me to bake incredible cakes, but also create desserts that can also serve an beautiful accessories for any table. It thrills me every time I use this pan. Because the beauty of this cake when I am finished. The gift, or heritage, that I want to pass down to my kids from my baking is that if we slow down enough to savor the simple things in life, like baking a bundt cake. We will find that we can savor the goodness of sharing beautiful thing with others and our own family. And that, in the simple things, we can find incredible beauty.

Until next time...


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Celebrating Spring

Hi Everyone!

A new season is upon us, and with the new season, came the exciting opportunity for me to bring my Curiosity Cottage to 318Central. I have been writing about my curiosity for life for years and the opportunity to share this with you truly brings extra excitement into my world. Being a true creative at heart, you may find that my pieces are about everything from cooking to creating. You will just have to visit each month to see what I have decided to share.

Several months ago, there was an article on social media that talked about how people no longer know how to set a dinner table. I am right at the “empty nest” point in life, but both of my boys have developed an interest in cooking. This gave me the perfect opportunity to teach them how to set a table and prepare to entertain. My mom loved to make Crawfish & Saffron Rice Casserole, and it has always been one of our favorites. People always ask me for the recipe, so I thought I would share it, since this is crawfish season. It is super easy to prepare and can feed so many people. 

Crawfish & Saffron Rice Casserole 
1 large package of Saffron rice, cook according to directions 
Sautéed onions, celery, & garlic in olive oil.
Add the following:
2 packages of crawfish tails
1 can crème of shrimp soup
1 can crème of mushroom soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes
Combine mixture with rice. Add to casserole dishes and top with cheese.
Heat in 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted.

I recently purchased a GORGEOUS Bundt pan, which I used to make a Double Almond Wedding Cake. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous trying it out, but I was so pleased with the results; I thought it would complement this meal perfectly. When I make cupcakes, I use a traditional buttercream icing, but for the Bundt cake, I thought a glaze was in order.

Double Almond Wedding Cake
1 box Betty Crocker™Super Moist™white cake mix.
            Water, vegetable oil and eggs as called for on the cake mix box
1 tablespoon almond extract

Almond Glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup evaporated milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
Whisk ingredients together until smooth. Poor over cool cake.

Having my boys help with our meal not only passed down my mom’s tradition, but gave them a new addition to add to their recipes as well. Cooking together as a family definitely makes for a fun time, and in my world, it usually involves much laughter, singing, and dancing. So let our Spring Celebration give you new ideas for your family and friends too.



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