February 11, 2016

Black/Blue/Brown (S&T 2/11)

Stuff, Things, etc.

Dress: Stitchfix // Sweater: Express // Boots: Madden Girl

Do you mix black and brown? What about black and navy?  More often than not, I stand in my closet and look around to see what color combinations I can come up with. I like mixing neutrals in a way that looks fresh and new, but not like I got dressed in the dark (and I hate overhead lighting, so sometimes I do get dressed in the dark).  I don't like it when things are matchy-matchy or when outfits are very specfic; this pattern can only go with that pattern, etc.  I try to buy things that will go with everything so I have more options.  Part of the reason why I still use Stitchfix. They send lots of neutral colors and patterns.

I don't remember what this outfit was supposed to look like. I'm guilty of picking something out the night before and wearing something completely different in the morning.  I put this together at 6:45am, before I left the house at 7:00am and then I got to work late because the roads were bad from the 3 inches of snow we'd gotten over night.  Usually I'm at work by 7:30, but not on this day.

Though you'd never know: it was almost 50 degrees in the afternoon when I took this picture.


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February 10, 2016

Pinteresty Things

My last Pinterest post was in June. It's time.

+Easy Sheet Pan Breakfast Pizza.  Delicious. We ate it on Christmas.

+Molasses Snickerdoodles. I also made these for Christmas.  Amazing.

+Tomato, Cucumber, and Avocado Salad. I think I made this last summer.  It was okay. I don't really remember it.  I like the grape/avocado/cucumber one better.

+Truly Crispy Oven-Baked Wings.  They really are crispy.  This works very well.

+One-Pot Lasagna Soup. I made this during our little snowstorm last week and didn't have ricotta or tomato paste, so I subbed in a bit of cream cheese and some extra marinara.  I almost used turkey stock but that seemed too adventurous so I made broth with chicken bouillon instead. It was tasty, but would definitely be better with (lots of) ricotta.

+Panda Express-Style Orange Chicken.  Eh. I didn't like it. I've made crockpot orange chicken before too and didn't like that, so maybe it's me.  Scott loved it.

And a few funny things:

+How an introvert makes a phone call. Basically they (I) dread it all day and start to sweat and procrastinate and are secretly relieved when they get a voicemail.  Since Scott's a commander now, I'm a key caller.  Worst nightmare realized. I get to randomly call people I've never met and chat with them and/or pass along information.

The "your" hurts my heart a little bit. You get the idea.

These are Schmidt quotes turned into motivational posters.  I'm planning on printing these and hanging them behind my desk at school.

Linking up with Jenn!

February 9, 2016

January Books

In my ABC update last week, I mentioned that reading is something I'm doing in an unintentional way right now. As a result, I feel much less stress about the whole thought of reading, so this is a strategy that's working for me this winter.  Only 5 books in January? I can live with that.  What I can't live with is that none of them were awesome. Maybe I'm being too picky.

Books that are part of the Winter Book Challenge are in blue.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling C-
I honestly couldn't tell the difference between this and her last book.  The last one talked a lot about her childhood, while this went from college to the present.  But I was bored.  There were a few parts where I chuckled. I loved The Office.  I don't really watch The Mindy Project.  I like her, but I don't know if we could be friends, so it wasn't like reading her book was likened to having a conversation with a friend. She seems super easygoing and I am...not. I might be the only person who doesn't love her books.
And reading about her day-to-day schedule was exhausting.  I met her once but didn't get a picture like I did with B.J. Novak.  Darn, right?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo A
See separate review here.

You by Caroline Kepnes C+
This is like Dexter meets 50 Shades meets Gossip Girl. Kind of.  I didn't love it. I thought it was just a really weird book. None of the characters were likable and this almost wasn't finished because I just wasn't invested in Joe's brand of crazy.  He is what I would refer to as an "unlikable Dexter" and Dexter was a serial killer but he had many decent qualities; Joe has none. Beck has even less so it's hard to sympathize with her.
If anything, this teaches us to erase our digital footprints and stop using Twitter.
This might be one where I insist on reading the sequel even though I didn't love it.  That's what happened with Me Before You/After You.

Killing Reagan by Bill O'Reilly C+
There's few things I enjoy more than a non-fiction biography of sorts narrated by Bill O'Reilly.  Is that kind of twisted?  I just love these books. Unfortunately, this was my least favorite of the series...I do recommend the documentary series on Netflix called Crimes of the Century. I learned about this event from that, initially, a few years ago. This topic might just be too modern at this point.
If you're going to read a Killing book, go with Killing Kennedy.
From this book, I learned about what a terrible person Nancy Reagan was as first lady and I also was able to recollect that Reagan died the day after I graduated from high school.  It's like I knew that on some level, but never connected it.

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Edwards D
My friend sent me this for Christmas (hi Jenna!) and it comes with accolades and recommendations from many famous authors. I had high hopes, but it just kind of fell flat.  Like, the story didn't make me care about the characters.  There was a lot of superfluous dialogue/action/characters that just didn't need to be there.  I wouldn't completely discourage you from reading it, but I didn't fall in love with it in any way.  There's some important themes and serious issues (namely children illegally immigrating to the US), but there just wasn't a follow-through for me. And the ending was weird.

Linking up with Jana and Steph!

February 8, 2016

Since no one else is talking about Serial...

As much as I enjoyed the first season of Serial, this season is draining my patience. 
I was apprehensive when I heard what/who the subject was. It hits kind of close to home, simply because that was Scott's brigade in Afghanistan that Bowe walked away from.  And he did indeed walk away, and the general consensus in this household (uh, and in the military community) is that Bowe is an absolute idiot. 

I don't like Bowe, I don't like what he did, and I don't like the way Sarah Koenig seems to be defending him.  Basically, listening to season 2 makes me want to plug my ears.  Thoughts?  I could go on for days. No one deserves to be held and tortured like he was, but he was also no POW.

However, Sarah Koenig and the powers that be must have realized that the natives were getting restless and the exciting element of investigation is what has been missing from season 2...
In a last ditch effort to keep listeners, she's giving Adnan updates in real time, day to day, whenever need be, at Adnan's hearing that is currently happening. This hearing will determine if he gets a new trial based on his terrible lawyer the first time around and new evidence in the form of an alibi witness. 

Unfortunately, there's a continuation of the hearing today and Sarah Koenig can't be there because she "needs" to be in the studio recording the next episode of season 2.  I'll speak for us all by saying no one cares. She'd be doing us all a favor by sitting in a Baltimore courtroom today.

Thoughts on this?

February 5, 2016

February R+F Incentives!

February was always referred to as the worst month for teachers. Cold, dark, kids are drained, teachers are gearing up for testing season, etc.

However, I think it's not that bad. It's a short month. It's not as wishy-washy as March when it comes to weather (I like predictability in my weather). And to make it better, I'm offering some special Rodan+Fields Incentives!

If you've been thinking about trying products...if you've been wondering or pondering or just questioning what your current skincare regimen is doing for you, let me know! I can hopefully answer any questions you have and I'd love to put you on the road to great skin for spring. It only takes 30 days to see real change so you'll be ready for spring break in no time!

Between now and February 15th...

1. Any new Preferred Customers: I got your $20 PC fee.  No worries.

2. Any new Consultants: $50 back for buying a start-up kit!

3.  I've also got a few GLO sample packs to give away: Microdermabrasion, Night Renewing Serum, and Lip Renewing samples for you to try! Let me know if you want one and I'll put it in the mail ASAP.

If you've be wanting/wondering/thinking at all about Rodan+Fields, this is an awesome opportunity!

And you know, lest we forget...

February 4, 2016

Seasonal Stuff (S&T 2/4)

Do you have a favorite season? I know this sounds like a 4th grade writing prompt (it is), but I've given a lot of thought lately to what kind of person I am when it comes to seasons. In Pennsylvania, we had 4 seasons. That was life and it was all I knew and that was that. No matter how hot it was in the summer or how cold it was in the winter, the season eventually turned.

Alaska was a whole different ball game and I learned to appreciate the few warm days of summer and also how to just adapt and deal with winter. Usually by wearing layer upon layer and staying indoors.

My favorite month was always September (fall begins, school starts, etc), but in Missouri and now in Colorado, September is still so hot that it's just like summer.  I prefer October these days as it's really the beginning of fall in these parts.

When we have randomly warm 60 degree days in January here in Colorado, I hate it. I prefer colder weather in the winter. In Colorado Springs it gets really hot in the summer. I like being warm. I don't like being hot. I like it when weather is more or less predictable so I don't have to do any guesswork.

Of course, a random 60 degree day the first week of February would be better than being snowed in (the current situation).

So the reason you've never seen this fabulous mini-dress from Stitchfix is because I tend to wear it on days when the weather is less than desirable for picture taking. I bought it TWO years ago and I wear it regularly because with leggings and a cardigan, there is no easier outfit.
The shadows are weird here. I tried to adjust the picture. Didn't work.  
Also, there is a box of hair dye in my future. 


Also! I'm selling my Clarisonic.  I have a like-new Clarisonic Mia 2 with a brand-new brush head for $80. I only used it for 2 months, so it really is like new. The brush head, just so we're clear, is brand new :) And the price tag says $32 because it was originally a two-pack.
Anyway....I like it, but I don't use it and hate to see it going to waste. Let me know if you're interested!

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February 3, 2016

ABC Update: February

Here's the original post from last month if you'd like to see what it is exactly that I'm adjusting for betterment and convenience.  I don't have an update for everything, but some of these bullet points are always in the back of my mind, so that's what I'll have comments for.

Things I'm not going to do:

Track books in a serious and/or competitive way (even if I'm just competing with myself).  
I feel good about this.  I've read a few books so far this year, but I've really just been enjoying podcasts. I have a list I'm chipping away at but, if it gets read, it gets read. Not having to race myself is nice.

Stop doing schoolwork at home.  This is wonderful.  It was like all I needed to do was give myself permission to not bring work home and not do any of it if I did, and it all balanced out.  I found myself writing a plan one night that didn't take long, but I really think that's it.  The weekends are a little different.  I generally bring some papers home to grade because they have lots of tests on Fridays, but I don't mind grading while I drink coffee and watch the Today Show.
I also have a parent helper this semester and she's done some of the regular tasks that I normally bring home with me (sorting book orders, filing graded papers into portfolios, etc.) She's worth her weight in gold.

Giving up just these two things has relaxed me beyond belief.  Thank goodness for our ability to just say no to ourselves, right?

Stuff I won't compromise on:

Pilates. Still going strong.  If I showed my stack of finished Pilates calendars, you'd see how organized and type-A I really can be.  If you join The Balanced Life Sisterhood, you too can have a printable calendar each month. 

Walking the dogs. As long as I'm home before dark, I walk the dogs.  Sometimes we do a lap in the morning before school.  As the days get lighter this will be easier.  Last spring, I invented this term for these walks and called it a "run round" because they dogs can run free all 'round the house.  So our word for "walk" is "run-round".  They react the same way as if I'd pick up the leash and head for the door.

Meal-planning.  This is...going.  I've had trouble lately because I've had no appetite for some reason (stress, most likely, with deployment upcoming), and thinking What do I want for dinner? is hard.  I am still tracking just weekly trips to the grocery store and there's a certain freedom in knowing that I don't have to stop at the store after work for something because we have things to make.  Even if "things" means pancakes and scrambled eggs.  Because sometimes it's Thursday night and it's all you can muster. Scott has been getting home late and I usually make him something, or I make a giant pot of something on Monday and he eats it all week (chicken tortilla soup was an example of this). There's been many nights where I've had cereal/yogurt/fruit/ice cream for dinner. I am doing well with lunches though.  I pack 5 lunches for him on Sunday and I pack mine each night while I'm making dinner (or what we'll call dinner) because I tend to take leftovers and just a giant assortment of somewhat healthy snacks.  

New things I'm adding in:

Cardio.  I've started going to spin classes on Saturdays and it's been lovely.  I found an instructor who is actually good and makes spin fun. Her classes are always so full that I have to get there half an hour early.  They bring in extra bikes!  At some point, I'm going to start incorporating weeknight classes again and day classes in the summer, but it's really hard to do when I know I've had the dogs locked up all day.  Me getting home at 7pm isn't really fair to them. 

De-cluttering.  I've been on a rampage.  After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I realized I do have a lot of stuff I don't need and I started filling another garbage bag.  With clothes, I have no problem getting rid of things.  Purses are where I've struggled.  I got rid of a lot of few years ago and my issue is that each purse is tied to a memory.  Even if I'll never use it again, I want to hold onto it. I'm working on this.  My de-cluttering will come to a head as soon as the basement is officially finished and we can clear out all the boxes of stuff. I also have a plan to tackle the boxes of kitchen stuff that we have in the shed. It's not all necessary. 

So if we're making New Year's Resolutions, these have been mine. I'll continue to follow-up...because accountability.

And to end on a humorous note. This is me. 

February 1, 2016

(Non) Teacher Hacks

...in my ever-so-humble opinion.

There's so many articles, pins, and compilations of ideas out there for teachers. Things you can do, should do, must do to make your life easier.  "Hacks", if you will.

There's several on Buzzfeed and I usually scroll through the lists for a good laugh.  Today, I'm dissecting this one and telling why most of it is a waste of your time.  When you're a teacher, time is the most valuable commodity there is. That's my bottom line.

I think a big chunk of the problem is that people who aren't teachers are writing and compiling these articles.  The author of this list writes that she likes "shopping and bubble gum" and her hodgepodge of compilations makes my head spin.  Why doesn't Buzzfeed hire an actual teacher or teacher-blogger (there's so many out there!) to write these things?

I pinned this particular article the other day under "Funny" and not under "Teaching" because I fully intended to use it for blog material, not in my classroom. There's a few here that aren't the worst ideas, but I'm going to skip over those.

Here's the waste-of-your-precious-time stuff.

1.  Use Hershey's Kisses and colored dots to put kids into groups.
----I'm not allowed to give kids candy.

2. Or use colored bracelets to separate them into groups.
-----Remember when these bracelets were used to play some weird elementary/middle school game where each color represented something sexual? Kids were playing games with them that weren't school-or-kid-appropriate. I wouldn't hand these out, ever.

3.  Paint chips to make log-in cards.
-----Students have about 15 log-ins. I'm not writing all that down. That would be a misappropriation of time. Plus, Lowe's would love it if I went in and swiped 30 paint chips for something useless.

4. A straw dispenser for pencils so kids aren't searching through the pencil bin looking for the perfect pencil.
---I don't have a pencil bin. I run a rather sink or swim classroom.  If you can't bring a pencil to school or acquire one somehow, I'm not sure what I can do with you, really.  If a kid doesn't have a pencil, I tell them to find a friend who has one they can borrow.  I regularly give out pencils, though, and I do lend them out from time to time.  The last thing in the world I would do is spend time sharpening/maintaining/storing a cache of pencils.  That's also a misappropriation of time.

5. Use binder clips to separate flash cards.
---Really? Use binder clips to....hold things together? Genius.

6.  Store paint in squeezable ketchup bottles and use Starbucks frappuccino cups for painting.
----This would only be useful if you were an art teacher. Where would I store all this stuff??

7. Stack/tie crates together with zip ties.
----I do like this. Crate-cost adds up though. You'd need at least 25 all stacked up. Plus you'd need wall space.

8. Sending a bottle of hand sanitizer as a bathroom pass.
----That's a dangerous game.  Many kids can't even handle the novelty and privilege of a paper towel dispenser.

January 28, 2016

Link Love (S&T 1/28)

Stuff, Things, etc.

+I cried at the end of Downton last week (1/17's episode).  Spoiler here.

+I like this. I have a purse problem.

+You might've seen this on Facebook: a doctor explains what parents are doing wrong.

+This was on Facebook too: why you should never ask someone when they are having kids. (But since this is a Buzzfeed article, there's a typo. See if you can find it.)

+Funny tweets.

+I've been loving the Saturday spin class here because the instructor is wonderfully motivating and, like, good at it (which is rare). She also has the best taste in music.  She played Taking Back Sunday AND some of the 90s music remixed in a way that is really perfect for cardio. I'm pretty sure all I listened to for the first two years of college was Taking Back Sunday.

+I pinned this orange chicken recipe because it's kind of embarrassing for me to admit how much I love Panda Express.  We had P-Ex catered at school a few months ago and I ate two platefuls and then I almost fell asleep in the middle of reading class.  It was awful.

+And while you're on Food52's site, look at this list of things to do for yourself in the kitchen this year.  Some of it seems very tempting, some seems impossibly easy, and some just seems impossible.

+This might be the best thing I've seen someone in Hollywood say about snubbing. The only person who is ever allowed to complain is Leonardo DiCaprio.

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January 27, 2016

Why Our Christmas Tree is Still Up

Growing up, we put the tree up in mid-December and took it down right after New Year's.  It was the 90s and early 2000s and people were still regular-achievers then, not the overachievers you see on the internet these days.  So I have no background in leaving Christmas trees up until March. That's a tradition and accomplishment I've begun all on my own.

The first Christmas we were married, Scott was deployed.  I got a tiny pre-lit tree super cheap at Fred Meyer and just stuck it in the living room.  I didn't even have any ornaments, except for the personalized one I got at a craft fair that fall.  Since our family had sent presents for Scott and since I had bought presents for Scott, I stuck them next to this two-foot tree and we had Christmas again in February when he came back.

The year after, we were moving in February, so I packed up Christmas ASAP.  I'm hyper about purging and packing when it comes to moving.

The year after that, Scott deployed in December and I swore we weren't doing Christmas.  This meant that I, obviously, put the tree up in mid-November and left it up until March.  It was just me living there. And we had two living rooms. The tree was nicely lit and decorated in the living room we didn't use.  The benefit to this was that I could take it down in March and be all Now Christmas is over but hey! It's March! Deployment is a third of the way over!  -----sometimes you have to play mind games with yourself to get through things, you know?

The next year we were prepping for a move again so the tree came down pretty quickly.

In Missouri, our house had no place for our 7 foot tree so it came down rather quickly too.

Last year, I left it up for awhile I think.  I don't really remember.  (Which is weird because I remember everything...I've blocked out a lot of 2014-2015 I believe.)

This year, the tree is still up and I don't really have a reason.  The boxes for Christmas decorations are in the basement and I don't feel like hauling them upstairs and then hauling all that back out to the shed.  It's cold out.  And Scott doesn't know where I like the boxes to go for easy access next year.  Plus he's busy.

The only reason why I can think of that I leave Christmas trees up foreverrrr is because of that first year and it just seems natural now.  Like, why wouldn't you want to look at twinkle lights for a few months instead of a few weeks?  And living in northern climates, spring isn't exactly around the corner.

Do you take your tree down ASAP? Given that it's artificial, of course, I don't think there's anything that's stopping us from leaving them up year round (there's an idea...).