Christmas Gift Ideas ~ My Favorite Things

Extraordinary Living

Happy Holidays! It’s that time of year that flies by the fastest. Please do me a favor and remember two things.

ONE – Jesus is the reason for the season!

TWO – If you can shop online, by all means DO IT!

I’m not sure if you watched my LIVE Video on My Favorite Things, but in case you missed it, here is a recap. Hopefully, some of these ideas will inspire you with some creative Christmas Gift Ideas. And, for your convenience, I’ve including easy links so you can purchase these items, hassle free. (Aka AMAZON!)

It's Not Your Fault ~ A Letter to Honey Bear

Extraordinarily Yours

Dear Honey Bear,

It’s been a few weeks since you left us. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. Thanksgiving has come and gone. I was thankful for so much. But, I also felt sad. I don’t know where you spent your holiday. I don’t know if your new placement suits you better. I can only hope.

I still have this maternal concern for you. I’m not sure if that will ever go away. This isn’t the kind of parenting I anticipated. When you arrived, you called me mom. You loved me like your mom. You referenced me as your mom. In many ways, you treated me like your mom.

But, when it came time to look out for you- to meet your real needs and to teach you right from wrong, I felt far too helpless to be your mom.

I want you to know something. It’s not your fault.

You were already half grown. Wounded beyond anything I could offer to heal you. I tried to give you a normal life. For a while, you held it together. For the most part. You wanted to be here, and I wanted to be your mom. Sometimes, what we want is not enough.

It’s not your fault.

I remember tucking you in at night. My big baby girl. I fought back tears every night. I wish I had you from the start. I would have raised you with love. You would have been able to sleep better. You would have been healthier. You would have known right from wrong. You would have understood the dynamic of a family.

You were scared. You were wounded. You did not understand the role of mother and daughter. You saw me as just your friend. You saw your baby sister and your dad as a threat. It broke my heart.

It’s not your fault.

I called you Honey bear. Yet, you were more like a wild bear. One that had lived its life alone. In the wild. One that had been wounded. And, one that could never be domesticated.

It’s not fair. And, it’s not your fault.

I’ll never understand why you’ve been given the life of a foster child. I’ll never understand how a mother could abandon her biological baby. And, I’ll never understand why this did not work out. We can ask God all these questions, someday.

Because, it’s not your fault.

Until then, I will pray for you every day. I will trust that as a child of God, you will always feel loved. Because you are worthy of love. I hope that God can heal you. I know anything is possible. With God, all things are possible. At least we got to cross paths. Even for a short time. I’m glad to have known you.

Don’t ever forget this. I love you very much. And, you’ll always be my Honey Bear.


Your Mom…for a little while.


EXTRA Ordinarily Yours




Extraordinarily Yours

I am so happy to announce my next Facebook LIVE Video Series. Beginning next week! This time, it’s going to be all LE Woman content.

As many of you know, I’ve spent the past few months on hiatus. Adjusting to our newest foster family member. Then, after two hard-working months, dealing with the reality (and an even harder transition) of the child leaving our home. I can’t share details, but I will tell you that LE Woman has been my saving grace. Along with my faith and those of you who actually read my posts and shared your support. (I sincerely can’t thank you enough for all those messages of encouragement. God bless you!)

Aside from being a housewife and mommy of a one-year old, I struggle to keep balance in my life. What’s that? Oh, you thought I had it all together? Have you forgotten that LE Woman is not a…

“I’ve got it all together, and let me show you how it’s done” blog.

It’s more of a…

“This is hard! But, I’m willing to share the ups and downs of my life, experiences, and mistakes in REAL TIME.” blog.

I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t make money on this blog. I can’t afford an editor. Or, a real model. My writing is a work in progress. I don’t have (nor want) a huge following. I prefer a loyal following of readers and listeners that I can sustain and interact with.

My faith is a journey. My health is a battle. My marriage is an adventure. My home is a project. And, my circumstances are extraordinary. Hey, that’s one thing we have in common. Our lives are extra-ordinary. Not anything like one another’s. That’s kinda nice.

A few years ago, I lost everything. At the same time. It was the most beautiful experience of my life. I spent many months, alone. At the beach. In the winter. Seeking God like never before. God spoke to me through His word. I learned that there are hundreds of PROMISES mentioned in the bible that are ready to be claimed by you and me!

Do you know that there is a guaranteed promise of joy and peace no matter what our circumstances are? Have you asked someone who claims to know Jesus about the joy and peace in their life? You should. You can ask me, anytime. ; )

Life is hard. There is absolutely no way I could do any of it without God’s help. So, yeah there is an underlying message in everything I share with you. I experience life with peace and joy, because I can. Because I am a Christian.

Does that mean I have it figured out? Hay’ell no. Does that mean I am perfect? Farrrrr from it. Does that mean I feel happy all the time? Not. Even. Close. Bud. (Breakfast Club 🙂

I live an extraordinary life. And, I like to share that with others.

I chose a career in Education because I love kids and I love to teach. My health took me away from that after 17 years. I can’t work a full-time job, and that was the hardest thing to ever admit. (Especially when you are Italian and everyone in your family works like 60 hours a week.) But, thankfully, I have a second passion that I can do as a hobby. From home. Whenever I am able.

Enter LE Woman. I can write about everything I love. Anything House & Home. Lifestyle topics. And, food. The best part is I can still teach. I can do that in the form of sharing, here on my blog.

And, now I’ll be doing this via LIVE Videos! All LE Woman oriented. A different topic each week. I’m going to include tips and advice based on my experience and LOVE for all of the topics I’ve mentioned.

I already worked out a list of titles that I’ll be sharing throughout the next several weeks. I’ll give you notice before I go LIVE. I may mix up the times of the day so that you can hopefully join in and dialogue with me, every once in a while. So, here are some of the titles:

  • Hosting Thanksgiving at The House on High Street
  • Outside Tour of The House on High Street
  • Living with PMDD (and Endometriosis)
  • Banana’s Favorite Things
  • Rachel Maria’s Chicken Florentine
  • Scott’s Favorite Things
  • Inside Tour of The House on High Street
  • Time & Money-saving tips for the Holidays
  • Rachel Maria’s Biscotti
  • My Favorite Things (Household)
  • My Favorite Things (Girly)

Ok, so I’m just getting started. How do these sound so far? Please don’t forget to go to the LE Woman Facebook page and CLICK on Notifications. That way, you will be notified whenever I am LIVE. Hopefully, you can participate.

I don’t get out much, so this will be my social highlight of each week!

The videos will range from 10-30 minutes long. (The PMDD one will go longer as I am having women with PMDD from all over the globe joining in for that one!)

So, please let me know if you have any suggestions. Thanks, my loves. xo

EXTRA Ordinarily Yours


Bang Bang Shrimp

Rachel Maria's Recipes

One of my favorite restaurants is the Bone Fish Grill. I love the quality, freshness, and taste of the food. I love the seafood, steak and burgers, $8 martinis, appetizers, and desserts! I love the service. And, the prices are great!

Of course, everyone who has been to Bone Fish, loves their Bang Bang Shrimp. The combination of fresh shrimp, with a crispy crunch, drizzled with a spicy-mayo-like sauce is pure heaven. I get hungry just thinking about Bang Bang Shrimp!

This past Sunday, I made dinner for my dad’s birthday. My mom is an unbelievable cook who spends more time cooking than sleeping! I knew if I wanted to make dad feel extra special, I needed to take it up a notch.

Since dad and I both love seafood, I decided to recreate two of my favorite dishes from Bone Fish Grill. Tilapia Imperial (I can post that recipe, next) and for an appetizer…

You guessed it, Bang Bang Shrimp!

It took quite a bit of research, and a few tries to get the sauce just right. But, it came out great! Dad was as happy as a shrimp. I mean clam! (LOL

I will say that you’ll want to adjust the measurements of the sauce ingredients to your liking, so don’t be afraid to add a little more or a little less of the key 3 ingredients! Mayo. Garlic Chili Sauce. Sweet Chili Sauce.



Sweet chili sauce

Of course, I still prefer eating at Bone Fish Grill and ordering my Bang Bang Shrimp. I don’t prefer frying anything in my kitchen unless it is a rare and special occasion.

Ok, let me know what you think…

Rachel Maria’s Bang Bang Shrimp

Bang Bang Shrimp

Yield: Serves 6 as an appetizer


  • 1 lb. Medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 Pint of Buttermilk
  • 3 Cups Pancko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 tsp (each) Seasonings: Pepper, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • 1 Cup Mayo
  • 1 T. Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Garlic Thai Chili Sauce
  • Green Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 Head of iceberg lettuce


  1. Whisk the mayo, sweet chili sauce, and the garlic chili sauce and set aside
  2. Pour buttermilk into a large bowl
  3. Combine Pancko, flour, and seasonings in a large, deep dish.
  4. Heat oil in a deep fryer or large saucepan
  5. Soak a batch of shrimp (a handful at a time) in the buttermilk for a few seconds, followed by a toss in the Pancko/Flour mixture. Be sure to fully cover each shrimp.
  6. Fry each batch of shrimp for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Then, transfer the shrimp to a dish lined with paper towels.
  7. Repeat these 2 steps until all the shrimp is cooked.
  8. Transfer the shrimp to a platter plate. (On top of the lettuce)
  9. Drizzle the sauce over the shrimp (as much as you like), and sprinkle with green onions.
  10. Serve fresh and hot!
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin

EXTRA Ordinarily Yours

Weekday Dinner Menu at The House on High Street

Rachel Maria's Recipes

I wanted to share something I started at the beginning of Honey-bear’s school year. A weekday dinner menu. It’s working out great, so far. I’m wondering if any of you would benefit from something like this.

This weekday dinner menu is super extraordinary in many ways. First off, everyone knows what’s for din-din. The menu is structured, yet open-ended, so that there’s plenty of room for creativity, if desired. The meals, combined, offer a beautiful balance of meat, veggies, and grains. It is very easy to prepare them with clean, whole foods! Last but not least, food shopping is so much easier, and in the long run, cheaper.

weekday dinner menu can help a lot of moms or working women who don’t have any extra time to waste on… “What’s for dinner?” “Gee, I don’t know.” “What can you go for?” “Oh, you had that for lunch, already?” etc.

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