August 23, 2016

Currently Listening

I'm not a huge music lover. I go through phases. At this point, I only really listen to music when I'm driving and sometimes at school, and it's usually just Pandora because I'm pretty picky about things. Taking chances with the radio is an annoying waste of time.

I think I'll always be a country music fan. I didn't plan on that. I liked it as a kid, abhorred it for a good 15-20 years, and now it's come full circle.
Most people don't like it. 

For example: we were at the first staff meeting/breakfast of the year last week and the new administrator asked my coworker and I what kind of music she should put on while everyone sat around eating and talking; we were sitting right next to her and her laptop/speakers. This was pure chance. 
I'm pretty sure no one who knew us ever would've asked because we said "country". 
Most people in Colorado Springs don't listen to country music. 
She asked Really??? and we nodded. She, being way too nice, put on country music and we were in awe that it had actually happened. Most people I know listen to [I suppose what you would call] Top 40 stuff. I can't stand that. Or emo-ish stuff. Of Monsters and Men/Lumineers-style music is big, right?
All this to say, we will never get to pick the music again. 
However, in my own classroom, I can listen to whatever I want...







George Strait is King George. 
It doesn't matter what kind of country you like; everyone likes George Strait. His music keeps getting better.




Finally, no picture here, but this is a country love song that references the Mississippi River, sunsets, and Tom Petty. Also, whiskey and wine. 

And speaking of muscadine...does anyone have a website they order wine from? We discovered muscadine wine in Missouri and you can't find it this far north. 

Anyway. 

What kind of music are you {currently} listening to?



August 22, 2016

Making time to read is hard.

I went to get a pedicure yesterday. The day before, I'd gone to the library in hopes of finding something on my TBR list because I've not been reading at all this month. I do this thing when I'm stressed out...I don't read.

I don't read to relax; I have to already be relaxed in order to want to sit around reading. It's a weird quirk.

Then I thought, Hey, I'm going to get a pedicure, so I'll take one of the books I managed to find at the library (the "new" fiction section had some of the same books it held in the summer of 2015...if you need a point of reference concerning this library).

I mean, people sit there and stare at their phones and at magazines..why not a book? Do you do this? It seemed like a productive use of time and all.


Also, many thoughts on the book Tempting Fate by Jane Green.

August 18, 2016

Least favorite questions

What do you ask when you meet someone, or see someone you haven't in awhile?

I've done a lot of moving, a lot of meeting, and a lot of small talk. My top two least favorite questions are:

When is he coming home? Even if I knew, I wouldn't be able to tell you.

and

Have you thought about having kids? Since I do have a working brain, yes, I've thought about it.

I get both of these questions a lot.

The next question I never want to answer, or don't know how to answer, is How was your summer?

I usually say Good! How about you?

The response is usually Good, good! Did you go anywhere? What'd you do?

#1 No. I didn't go anywhere.
#2 Do you want an itemized list of what I did? It will involve snakes, pulling tumbleweeds, dogs, and watching TV.
#3 Just tell me where you went on vacation so we can move on.

I know I sound bitter. I try not to let that actually come out.

There's clearly nothing wrong with traveling and relaxing and having fun.

This picture is really neither relaxing or fun because it took some effort to scramble up on that thing.
I parkoured my way up, via the fence.

For the last several years, I haven't done those things in the summer because of circumstances. I mean, I've relaxed and done some fun things. I haven't done cross-country or intercontinental vacations in the summer though. A lot of teachers do these things, obviously, because that's their time off. It makes sense.

When your spouse isn't a teacher though, nothing changes in the summer for him or her. Even if Scott were here, we probably wouldn't go on vacation in the summer...I'm a fan of going places in the winter. EVERYONE vacations in the summer. It's like flying during Thanksgiving or Christmas. Pick an off week, not the most congested ones. Our trips are dictated by his schedule miraculously aligning with mine, and that doesn't happen often. It happens at Christmas and traveling at Christmas is hard on the soul. Plus, with any joint time off, we usually work on the house. Having a finished kitchen has always been my priority over a trip to the beach.

I never know how to answer the How was your summer? question because my answers are boring.  I think it's awesome if you got to travel over the summer, and I don't feel bad for myself because I haven't been hopping around the country (I feel bad for myself for other reasons, thankyouverymuch).

But I don't want you to feel bad for me either. There's a lot of things I would change right now, but wishing I'd gotten a chance to lay on a beach or walk the streets of NYC in recent weeks aren't some of them.
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For the record, my go-to question when I meet someone new is usually Where are you from? because most people I know in any place I've been aren't actually from that place. Much better than What do you do? or *shudder* What does your husband do?...that's a common one in the military world.

August 17, 2016

$13 of worth it.


There is no way I was moving that chair out of the way. 
This was taken at 5pm on the first day of school. 
There is no way...

The brick is there to prevent the chair from blowing down the second-story deck steps. It's happened before. 


I bought this dress for $13 on the Target clearance rack a few days ago. It's the Merona brand. You might say that I added the "fun" belt for a "pop" of color. I did not. I added the belt at 6:30am as I was walking out the door because I knew the dress poofed out a bit and created some unflattering lines. The belt reigned it in. And I actually had a very thin cardigan on over it in the morning and had the belt over the dress AND the cardigan, a la 2013.  It worked.

I bought the dress because my classroom hits about 85 1/2 degrees fahrenheit by 1pm and that is pretty miserable. I've been gravitating toward anything conservatively sleeveless ever since we moved to Colorado for this reason.

And can we talk about appropriate teacher clothes? Standards are low these days, guys. More on this at a later date, perhaps.

Also, take note: my $8 shoes from last year's Target clearance are holding up well. 

August 15, 2016

Play-by-Play of Days

Recaps can be the worst. If I recapped a summer day of mine for you, you would yawn and sigh and wonder why you were reading. I know you'd feel that way because I often feel that way when looking for a new blog to read.

Some people do weekend recaps well, and some do not. This recap is awful and I know it's awful. I wrote it that way on purpose.

I told my friend I was willing to recap my weekend in excruciating detail, as an experiment in tediousness.


Friday night:

(This already feels tedious.)

Got home about 4:30pm and walked the dogs. Then I drove them down to the mailbox (2 miles) because we do that almost every day. Then I opened up the FedEx package that had been left on my porch: my new tote bag. Week is complete.

Did some text messaging with friends, did some Rodan and Fields business while I ate zoodles and chicken meatballs (my own recipe...I can share soon), Walked the dogs one more time. Did a 37 minute Pilates Flexibility video.

Watched one and a half episodes of Shameless (season 6...I'm almost done :(, while I created labels and wrote notes to parents and worked on some lesson-planning.

Ate a bowl of frozen yogurt. Got a message from Scott. He's been gone for about 6 months now and, as I get busy with the start of school (and obviously he's busy overseas), he seems farther away than ever and I just try not to think about it.

Went to bed around 10:30pm.

It was actually a productive night.

Saturday:

Woke up naturally at 6:10am. Let the dogs out, made coffee, sat down to work on school things. Was interrupted by the dogs multiple times.

Drank a smoothie. Walked the dogs. Took a shower.

Drove to the commissary for the week's groceries and the PX for a few things I needed.

Came home and grazed through the kitchen for lunch because I wasn't really that hungry.

At 1:00, my friend came over with her dog so Jett and Scout could have a puppy playdate.  I enjoyed a Red's Apple Ale and some pretzels.

Around 4:30, I cleaned everything up, fed the dogs, and ate some leftovers from the night before.

I honestly don't even remember how I puttered away the time for the rest of the evening (does it even matter?), but I do remember walking the dogs around 8pm and then eating some greek yogurt and climbing into bed with another episode of Shameless. I also had a brownie.

Sunday:

Woke up around 6:30am and tried to get a head start on the week. Laundry, lunch prep, cleaned a bit, etc. Drank coffee and worked on some blog posts.

Walked the dogs. Made eggs, and enough bacon to get me through the week. Or two days. Whatever.

Went to meet my coworker at school around 10:00am so we could knock out a few things.

Then Scott called and I talked to him in the parking lot for awhile and then I got into the school around 11:00. I sorted some papers, printed a few things, looked for something I wanted to put on the wall, couldn't find it, and then settled with another sign that more or less said that same thing ("Writing") and then I left and went to Target.

It was packed. Must be the back-to-school shoppers, right? I got a few things for school, and then a dress for $13 so that was a win.

Came home, made a smoothie and a salad for lunch.

Called my mom.

Typed up learning targets for writing.

Made dinner and then packed up leftovers for Monday. Whether it will be lunch or dinner, I know not, but I have food almost ready for when I'm too tired and staring longingly at a bowl of cereal or something.

Walked the dogs, showered, watched an episode of Shameless while plowing through some more learning targets.

Did a relaxing foam roller "workout" to stretch before bed.
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The end to another tedious and boring weekend. Can you remind me in 6 months that I actually like weekends? Because I've really disliked them for the last few months.

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In other news, I'm doing this photo-a-day challenge because I'm craving some creative direction.

Starting mid-month is okay, right?


August 12, 2016

My Current Protein Smoothie

I went to the doctor back in June and he encouraged me to change my diet. My diet isn't bad (really). When I told a friend about all of his recommendations, she was appalled because I "eat healthier than anyone" she knows. I don't know about that, but I try not to eat processed food. I won't claim a perfectly balanced diet. I don't love vegetables usually and I don't eat a lot of meat. I'm a carb person, through and through. Even if I'm not eating loaves of french bread for dinner, I eat a lot of carbs.

Carbs are in everything, by the way. I will say that I've cut some things COMPLETELY out of my diet since then (I'm an abstainer, not a moderator): tortilla chips, bread (aside from the occasional sandwich thin), pancakes, and oatmeal.

But cutting out all carbs seems...difficult.

In the spirit of adjustment, I'm incorporating more protein. This really means that my diet has gotten to be extremely boring. I'm not eating pancakes for dinner anymore. I eat the same general things each day now, but I feel amazing, so it's obviously worth it.

I'm not tracking this anywhere (I learned long ago that I'm too OCD to track calories...it's not a good habit for me to fall into), but I'm keeping count of protein grams each day. I was "encouraged" to keep a carb count too. This is hard for me, so I'm just focusing on getting enough protein and then, if I'm full, I won't be tempted to eat chips and salsa for dinner. That's what this comes down to: not eating chips and salsa for dinner.

This smoothie has 30 grams of protein. My goal each day is at least 60 grams because you're supposed to be between 50-75 grams of protein every day. While I knew this on some level, I never considered it before. Yes, bananas have carbs, but half a banana is probably good for you, right?


Protein Smoothie

1 scoop of protein powder (whey OR casein powder is 24 grams per scoop)
1 small frozen banana (or half of a large one)
1 T natural peanut butter or almond butter (6-8 grams protein)
1 cup milk (I've been using unsweetened cashew milk)

Blend it all up and enjoy!

I have issues in that I can't put peanut butter and spinach together...it's really weird to me. Sometimes I leave the nut butter out and put in spinach and frozen mango but the peanut butter version is tastier and it keeps me full longer.


August 11, 2016

Links and things

The secret to the perfect no-bake cookies.  Here's my recipe too. It's worth a read if you're trying to figure out if/why it hasn't worked.

Getting rid of things that have served their purpose. A real passion of mine.

Principles healthy women practice. Consistency and habits is my takeaway here.

5-Ingredient Butter Tomato Sauce. I'm thinking over a mixture of zoodles and noodles?

In case you can't tell, I love audiobooks. This is the single best way I've ever discovered to do two things at once. Other people like them too!

On Treat Yo Self. This is often the excuse people give for why they need this or that. I, for instance, just bought a rather expensive tote bag and the insane turkey-trail train of thought that got me to click "Complete Purchase" was really a stretch. However, this is my new school year present to myself. For me, it's about the experience, promise, and usefulness of the new bag. It's not just feeling like I want to spend money on something just because.

Speaking of...this blogger wrote about school supply lists in the best way. I swear that I, as a teacher, am not trying to break your wallet if you're a parent. I don't even make the list! I have nothing to do with it actually. And I spend about $500 a year on supplies and books. Maybe more. It's really too depressing to keep track of, so I don't.

JP Sears on the Olympics. I'm not really watching. They're on in the background (because what do I pay for if I can't leave the TV on all day?), but I prefer the winter games.

Speaking of links...have you tried the Rodan and Fields Solution Tool?
I've been contacting A LOT of people lately and just asking What would you change about your skin? If you had a choice (and you do!) what would you want to improve upon?
The Solution Tool will help with that! It takes about 7 seconds. 37 seconds if you read over the results kinda carefully.

I know we can be hesistant to order from a direct sales organization, but think of this:


RF was actually only sold at high-end department stores 10 years ago. The doctors who created it decided they weren't reaching enough people that way, so they pulled a completely successful product line from the shelves and put it into the hands of consultants.

We're not all Blair Waldorf and don't all shop at Bendel's, right? Right. 


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What's your favorite link this week?

August 10, 2016

Perfect Outfit


It's a shame this outfit was wasted on the DMV and a morning sorting worksheets in my classroom.

However...

This top is a super soft pullover and was at TJ Maxx for $13. It reminds me of something Stitchfix would send with a $60 price tag (why yes, I did get a disappointing box from Stitchfix in recent days...referral link here...oooo, ahhh). It's absolutely ideal in every way.

The shorts are 3 years old, from Old Navy, and I don't think I paid more than $10 for them.

The shoes are knock-off TOMS from Target. I own 4 pairs. They last, season after season.

My perfect outfit is shorts and long-sleeves. On this day, it was also only 65 degrees out (it was like the heavens opened up and smiled down on me, for real), so I took the opportunity to blow-dry my hair for the first time in quite awhile. This is legitimately the most put-together I've looked in months.

Also, I mixed black shoes with a navy top on purpose. I love doing that.

What's your favorite kind of outfit?

August 9, 2016

July Books



Well now. It's a good thing I read some books in the first half of July. I haven't picked up a book yet in August. I'm not quite sure what that means.

Only You by Denise Grover Swank A
This was hopelessly adorable. I always say that I normally steer clear of these types of books but DGS just creates the best fictional characters. Her books are the exception to every rule I ever thought I had about chick-lit. There's a depth and a narrative that I don't really see in other books. The characters are incredibly likable and relatable. It's the best kind of fiction.
While, sure, these could be turned into Lifetime movies if given the right producer, they're just really good stories. This was the first in a 3-book series called The Bachelor Brotherhood. It's a spinoff of The Wedding Pact series, which was ridiculously good.
I'm not looking forward to waiting an entire year for another one. 
(ebook)

After Math by Denise Grover Swank C
I downloaded this because I'm of the thought that DGS can do no wrong. After Math, I knew, was a book about college students so I was hesitant. But I jumped into the audio. The first chapter was so bad that I almost returned it. Sweet Valley books have more depth to them than this, I thought. But I'd just returned a book a few days before because it was awful (I'm in a book-choosing rut), so that wasn't an option. I figured at the very least I would have a bad review to post. Bad reviews are the interesting ones, right?

Then it got better.
And I realized she had written a book in a way that presented the important details in the middle of the book, instead of at the beginning.
So the beginning was bad, the middle was good, and the end was okay.
I wouldn't discourage you from reading it but I'd tell you to go for another one of her series first so you get hooked on her style. This narrator was bad too. (audio)

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid C-/D+
See full review here. I didn't have a problem with the book itself or the writing. Something about the premise or the idea of what was happening in the book, as well as annoying characters, didn't sit well with me. I liked the periphery/background characters much better than I liked the main ones.
(audio)

Redesigned by Denise Grover Swank C+
This is kind of a sequel to After Math but it's more like a spin-off than a sequel. It was better than After Math by miles because it had more of a backstory to it and details were presented in a typical fashion. I enjoyed it. It got kind 50-Shades-of-Gray-ish at a few points and it was hopelessly predictable, but it was a good enough story.
(ebook)

Business as Usual by Denise Grover Swank C
And then this was the spinoff to Redesigned. It was good enough. It had even more of a backstory and I liked the characters. Predictable, sure, but not bad reading. I liked Ben's character. Lexi was okay.
(ebook)

A Man Between Sunset and Wisteria by Ryan Christopher B-
This is an adventure story and I think was written to really showcase the setting. It takes place in the Caribbean and Florida Keys so there's something about it that really drew me in. I've only been to the Caribbean twice but there's something I just enjoy about it.  It's a hard book to describe, so I'll break my own rule and post a synopsis.



It was like Matthew McConaughey meets alcoholism meets secrets meets treasure-hunting. It was like the best parts of Sahara (which I own), with some good characterization, taking place in the Caribbean. This book is 99 cents on iTunes, so if you want an adventure story that's a smooth read (I breezed through half of it while waiting in a parking lot), I'd go for it. (ebook)


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This was a chick-lit heavy month. You can see that, when I'm in a book rut (and I have been for awhile I think), I just stick to what I know.

And I didn't finish:

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza
I had this in my Audible wish list for months because I like the idea of getting pulled into a detective story. The first hour didn't catch my attention at all, so I just returned it. Oh well.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
I started this one night and it followed the show so closely that I just lost interest. They're good books, but I just wasn't feeling it.


Linking up with Jana and Steph!

August 8, 2016

47 minutes

Last week, I decided I was going to tackle the Manitou Incline on my own.



Scott and I did it last fall; I had wanted to and he had done it for PT a few times so he more or less shoved me up that mountain. I was terrified I wasn't going to be able to finish it. I never did adjust as well as I'd wanted to the altitude here.

The incline is a series of steps, but they're railroad ties, at weird angles and mostly vertical, so it takes a lot of scrambling and using your hands and abs to pull yourself up. It's 2,000+ of these steps and climbs 2,000+ feet in elevation from the top to the bottom. It's a mile long, and runs parallel to the trail up to Pikes Peak.

So anyway. When I went with Scott, I remember thinking how I just don't push myself into physical feats anymore. I give up easily. I don't see the point. It's not worth it. Three years ago, I would've attacked it with gusto. Not so anymore.

However, on that day last September, I made it up in under an hour. He said it was 48 minutes but I don't know how he well he was keeping track. I was sucking air and my muscles were burning and I was spent.

This past spring, my brother wanted to try it. Since he and his girlfriend (now fiancee!) were from out of town, they moved along slowly and so did I. It was very doable (dare I say "easy"?) moving along at that pace. We finished in about 90 minutes.

Two weeks ago, two of my friends here wanted to try it. They'd never attempted anything like it, so I knew it would just be me motivating them up the mountain. We stopped often and it was pretty easy for me because of the frequent stops.

So, when I found out the incline would be closing for repairs later this month, I wanted to try it by myself to see how fast I could actually do it. I got up at 4:30am, parked the car at 6:15ish (ugh, traffic) and then got started at 6:30 (I think it was more like 6:31, for the record). I finished at 7:17am and then it was another 45 minutes hiking down the Barr Trail, back to the parking lot.

Paint-stained shorts, ripped sneakers from last fall's trip down the Barr Trail, and the best $15 backpack ever.

I really put a lot of thought into the why of me feeling the need to do this. It's not like me to get up at 4:30 in the morning to exercise. I think the biggest reason was needing to prove it to myself, to prove my own physical capabilities. Also, to start something and finish it within 2 hours felt wonderful. So much of what I'm doing these days is long-term: this house, this deployment, etc. It's all long-term and that is demotivating. By starting and completing a feat of any sort before breakfast, I feel motivated to move onto other things.

I consider this a personal win; one of those personal development experiences that shape me into who I want to be.