October 8, 2015

Stuff and Things 10/8

Stuff, Things, etc.

+There's still one more day to sign up for The Great Pumpkin Swap if you want to join! I already started shopping.

+I haven't been to Starbucks for 3 weeks.  (I'll wait while you applaud.)

+Jett and I skipped obedience class last Sunday.  It's probably beneficial for him to go each week, but you get 8 classes for the price as long as you use them in a certain time period. And his little idiosyncrasies aren't going to change, no matter how many classes he goes to in a row.  For example, he is forever clawing his way onto my lap when I'm working at my desk.  He is relentless. He'll always (always) look at me like I'm the one with the problem when I tell him to sit and he doesn't feel like sitting. Plus, Scott was away last weekend and I'd like to get him to the class. So I might stretch out the visits. Plus, it's just as much about socialization at this point. He can sit and lay down and all that.  He just doesn't want to the majority of the time.  He is one of a kind.

+I've been listening to so many podcasts lately and most of these podcasts are sponsored by Blue Apron and Scott and I have listened to the commercials and we've talked about the idea of trying it and we've looked over the website...and I had a major conflict of self as I was considering trying out Blue Apron.
1. If I'm getting all of these fresh ingredients for dinner delivered to my door, I'm still going to have to spend an hour (at least) cooking dinner and cleaning up from dinner so it's not really a time-saver. 2. It's 9.99 a PERSON, not a meal.  The podcast sponsorship commercials make it seem like it's 9.99 a meal.  It's not.
3. $20 for dinner on my couch? That seems like a lot.
4. I already know how to cook. This would've been useful when I was newly-married and burning soup (before I started this blog), but the last thing we were able to afford at that time was a service like Blue Apron.
5. I have to go to the grocery store anyway for the basics, so it's not really saving me a trip.
6.  The novelty is the only thing that would get me, but we like leftovers and the fact that there are no leftovers bugs me. Again, only two servings for $20?
7. If I really want to make their food, the recipes are all online.
8. If you try to use the discounts the podcasts offer, you only get $19.98 off of your total for the week and it still ended up being almost $40 for three meals.  That's not two free meals you get; that's one free meal for two people.
8. While their food does look really tasty, I know I'm capable of it myself. So it's really a question of when I will stop being lazy...

+Every time I order the dogs food from chewy.com, I get a toy or two for $3 or so.  They destroy toys like it's their job, so I look for semi-durable and cheap. Both dogs get a sadistic joy out of de-stuffing farm animals and fowl.  I, stupidly, ordered this cow and chicken and they make noises like real cows and chickens so I listen to that all night long.  The mooing drives Scout nuts but he still carried the cow over to his little nest on the floor to sleep with him the other night.  He's such a person.

<!-- end InLinkz script —>

October 7, 2015


Don't forget that The 4th Annual Great Pumpkin Swap sign-ups are running until Friday.  Join in if you want to swap!

I tried to browse in an actual store the other day and immediately felt bored and overwhelmed. Like, I have other things I could be doing on my days off instead of dealing with parking lots and crowds. This has reaffirmed my desire to use Stitchfix for the time-being.  I'll buy one (maybe two) piece(s) per month and if I'm going to keep an item, it has to be functional for work and also comfortable.  I like having a clear set of rules and expectations.

This was another $54 cardigan.  It was soft and lovely and fit perfectly. But I'm not sure what they didn't understand last time about my feedback of "no $54 cardigans".  I had a different stylist this time, so maybe that was why.  We'll go with that.  RETURNED.

I liked this striped dolman-sleeve top, but I didn't like the $48 price tag.  It was okay but not long enough for leggings so it lost to the polka-dot top you'll see below. RETURNED.

This was awful.  I don't know why anyone would want to wear it.  It is incredibly unflattering and boxy.  I also don't like anything that slightly resembles a peasant style.  I didn't even need to try it on to know I'd hate it. It was like $50 or something. RETURNED.

I kept this polka dot tunic. It's perfect for boots and leggings. It was $48 and with the $20 styling credit, $28 isn't bad for a shirt that wears like a tunic.  Because leggings forever, right?
For the record, these are thick Athleta leggings with pockets so they don't wear like all those legging-nightmare pictures you see on the internet. KEPT.

These are black skinny pants that they sent me per request because pants vs. jeans are better in my book. However, they wore like my leggings that I'm wearing in the other pictures and they weren't near as comfortable.  Also, they didn't have real pockets!  And I thought they were just a little short. And they were $78.  There is no need to ever pay $78 for a clothing item, unless it is a coat or a purse or a pair of boots. RETURNED.

There was nothing that made me fall head over heels in love in this Fix, but I like what I kept and I know I'll get use out of it.  I'm reminding myself that the point isn't even the novelty of Stitchfix; it's the idea that I need to add real clothes to my wardrobe and crewneck tees from Target (only when on sale) don't count.

October 6, 2015

September Books

I'm going to start calling it a success if I can read three books a month. Which, if you recall, was my original goal back in January 2014.  This post is technically a week early but, since I do things by the month, I'm well into October's tasks, so here is a wrap of what I read in September.

To start with, I re-read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.  A student gave it to me in Alaska back in 2010 and I read it to my class this year. I almost started crying at the end as I was reading out loud.  It is THAT good. If you are looking for a book for your 3rd-5th grader, please try it. The kids clapped at the end (and I have a class this year. If you're a teacher, you know what "a class" means). We've moved onto a Goosebumps book in preparation for Halloween and then it'll be onto one of my favorite books ever: Bunnicula.

Now for new books I've read:

#59 The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson B

I found this on the library's website and I liked the cover. I liked the title too.  This story was very interesting to me and I did just plain enjoy it.  The story had a few different layers and, while it lacked the true depth of greatness, it was very good.  If you're looking for a pleasant read that will keep you wondering (not guessing really, just wondering), this is a good option.

#60 Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple B+

"Evolution" is the theme of this book.  You think it's going to be about one thing, then it's about something else, then it's actually about this other thing, and then you find out something from an email written by a random character that tells you the whole point of the book.

I liked it. I enjoyed the multiple points of view. It had shades of Liane Moriarity in it.  If you hate Seattle, this is the book for you.

#61 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky B

This was on sale at Audible for $4.95 so it seemed like a worthwhile investment. I'll pay $5 to read a book that's supposed to be good.
This reminded me very much of a Judy Blume book. A classic school story beginning at one point in the school year and coming full circle to the next year.  It's probably the surefire way for an author to show character growth and change.  Did the characters adapt in this book though?  It's kind of hard to tell.  Since everything is told from Charlie's point of view, I'm not sure what happens to the other characters.  And Charlie comes across as an unreliable narrator because he alludes to having serious mental health issues and seems to go through major highs and lows. Obviously this wouldn't hinder him from telling a cohesive story, but which is the real Charlie? He also admits to oh, I shouldn't have sent that letter because I don't know where my mind was or I don't remember what happened. We all have those moments of course, but it was hard to tell which was Charlie being a human being and which might've been Charlie going through some sort of breakdown. He seemed to have a lot of breakdowns. It's only at the very end that we learn a possible cause of the breakdowns, but I would pay to read that psychiatrist's file.

I found myself very curious about what the other characters would say about Charlie; maybe the story told from Sam's point of view, or Charlie's sister's or mom's. When Charlie says that his dad told him to "stop hanging on him like a monkey", I got flashes of maybe-this-kid-is-on-Ridelin-?.  He mentions being on meds but not what kind (that I can remember).  His social awkwardness and lack of a filter and lack of awareness made me think he might be on the autism spectrum.  I basically spent a lot of time trying to nail down a diagnosis since he never mentions one.

I suppose I was very caught up in "What's Charlie's deal?" and the rest of it kind of floated on by.  Important topics for teens, yes, but I'm not sure that any lessons were actually taught through this book.  I'm glad I read it as an adult. I'd like to see the movie.


I attempted: The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes. I found the audiobook and, two hours in, it hadn't really caught my attention so I moved on.  I was able to return it to Audible for a refund, which was nice. Such is life, I suppose. Maybe some other time.
Also, I started Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein but didn't finish it before the library snatched it back from my Kindle app.  Again, such is life. Maybe I can add it to my October books. I have three other books sitting on my Kindle app from the library and I can guarantee you I'll never read them because I simply don't have the time.

Truthfully, I've been so busy grading papers and I can't read while I grade papers.  I can watch t.v. but I can't read.  Multi-tasking has its limits.  Also, I like podcasts and those took precedent over books this month.  Oh well.

Linking up with Jana and Steph for the anniversary edition of Show Us Your Books!

AND...if you're interested in The 4th Annual Great Pumpkin Swap, sign-ups are running until Friday Night!

October 3, 2015

Tote Debate

I've spent most of the evening researching leather totes.

Which should I seriously consider?

Madewell Transport Tote

Cuyana Classic Leather Tote

What I really want is a new purse.  As I texted my friend the other day at lunchtime: "I want a new purse and I'm in the mood for something expensive"  because once I start thinking about a purse, I can't stop. It was on my mind all day. Though it doesn't have to be expensive, because I don't believe that expensive makes for a better purse.  My favorite bag, maybe ever, is this Halogen brand one that I got from Nordstrom's for $33 back in 2013.  I used it for 2 1/2 years and it started to wear a bit.  I'd buy another one in a heartbeat but they were discontinued and I got the last one in the store on that particular day.  So sad.


I got this Hershel bag in July and intended to use it for school, but it's not as big as I'd prefer and, if we're being honest, a highlighter exploded on the inside and I didn't discover it until a week later. I do use the bag but I'm afraid to try to wash the highlighter out because it might make it worse. Problems.

But, along the lines of wanting a new purse, I'm kind of sick of carrying two bags.  I usually carry a purse; a work bag for clipboards, papers, binders, my planner, and everything else that won't fit in my purse; a lunchbox; and a gym clothes bag if I have Girls on the Run after school.  That's FOUR bags. Plus, I'm usually trying to maneuver the quarter mile walk into my building without spilling my water bottle or my tea.  It's a struggle.

I was thinking that if I could consolidate a bit, life might be easier.  In this regard at least.  

Recommend a bag please!  

October 1, 2015

Your Fall Television Line-up (S&T 10/1)

Stuff, Things, etc.

If you know me by now, you know that I'm a T.V. snob.  This is what I'm excited for in October.

+Once Upon a Time.  I've discovered that OUAT is a show I have to binge-watch, not watch week by week.  I gave up on season 4 by last December and finally caught up on Netflix this week.  My intelligence can be questioned because, admittedly, I get distracted with my multi-tasking while watching and I seriously thought the season was over at episode 20 and then a new episode started and I thought it was looping back to the beginning of the season and then I thought "oh, I don't remember this" and assumed I'd been doing something else of the multitasking variety when I'd "watched" it the first time.  Well, no.  There were two more episodes.  Which I was delighted with.  What a nice surprise for someone who wasn't paying attention.
Anyway, the new season, season 5, began on Sunday on ABC.

+The Leftovers.  Did you watch this last summer?  We really enjoyed it.  I love Justin Theroux and I think it will constantly keep you guessing.  Season 2 starts this Sunday on HBO.

+The Walking Dead. I have a prevailing theory that if you don't watch TWD by now, you probably don't have an interest in such things and probably never will.  Season 1 is still my favorite (long live Shane), but I do like to see where the characters and the story go with each season. Fear the Walking Dead is something Scott has been watching (it's a spin-off) and I'm not caught up on that as of now.
Season 6 starts on Sunday, October 11th on AMC.

+The Affair. On Showtime.  We became enthralled with this saga last summer.  I'm glad they moved it to fall.  If you're interested in a stellar cast, telling stories from multiple POVs, check it out.

+Homeland. This show is why we still have DirecTV. No DirecTV = No Showtime = No Homeland.
We love Homeland. Season 5 premieres Sunday.

+Grimm.  I'm currently watching season 4 on Amazon Prime so I can be ready for season 5 on NBC on October 30th.  Exciting times..

Anyway, yes, if you haven't watched Grimm yet, give it a try.  And make yourself stick with it for at least 6 episodes.  That's how long it took for me to like it.  It's addictive.  Scott doesn't like it and that's because he didn't follow my 6-episode-theory.

What are YOU watching this fall?  Excited for any shows to come back?

September 30, 2015

Jett Goes to Obedience School

Jett is an odd bird. We've had him for a year and a half now and I still feel like I know nothing about him.

He's Scout's complete opposite.  Like, you would find pictures of Jett and Scout next to the word antonym in the dictionary.

For example, Jett does not bring me toys.  He doesn't prefer for me to play with him.  Scout prefers me to play.

Jett prefers to have all the toys to himself and perceives me as a threat.

Jett is stubborn.  He's relentless. An alpha-male. He's Dwight Schrute, basically.

He's also lazy though.  He understands "too much work".  When fetching things, he lets Scout do the work and then takes the thing fetched from him when he gets back.  He knows.

Because I still don't know what makes Jett tick (aside from food), we took a trip to Obedience School for the last two weekends.

I can't really put into words how embarrassing it was to sign up my 1.5 year old dog for basic training classes.  Thank goodness that part was all online.

Before you get on me about not taking care of this a year ago...Jett is a (supposedly) well-bred hunting dog.  He has a job and a purpose. Usually, you train hunting dogs yourself because they are to be your partner. Or you send them off to camp-like programs to have them professionally trained. That costs thousands and takes months.  Eventually though, in the last few weeks, I told Scott I was taking Jett to obedience school and we made a deal that that was fine as long as it was $50 or less per class.  It was a how-much-are-we-willing-to-pay-for kind of situation.  For me, I'm willing to pay a lot.  Luckily, the Karma Dog Training School is very reasonably priced.

The thing is that Jett "generally" does what I want him to do. He "generally" listens to me.  "Generally", I feel that I have a handle on him.  I also "generally" don't trust him.

He likes to jump on people.  While Scott and I don't care, I find that people "generally" do care.  We always just blamed it on him "being a puppy".  Well, Scout outgrew this puppy stuff by 9 months old and Jett is twice that age now. I was insistent on that when I told Scott we needed to do something.  He's younger than Scout but he's not that young. There's a difference. While Jett is probably smarter than some humans, his stubbornness is getting in the way of intellectual growth.  If he was a kid, for example, he'd be the kid on Ridelin and probably with an individualized education plan of sorts. He'd be the kid who drove the teacher crazy.

I was skeptical that the Obedience School people could actually help us and it's pretty telling that Scott and I both laughed out loud when we read "will graduate after 8 weeks!" Let's not count our chickens before they're hatched.  If these people can really qualify Jett as a graduate after 8 weeks, I would gladly pay them double.

September 29, 2015

The Manitou Incline and It's Not Fall Yet

I wrote this post on Sunday and on Sunday the forecast looked slightly less fall-ish for Colorado Springs.  It's looking more fall-ish right now, but that does not excuse the jeans/sweaters/boots combo I saw many people wearing when it was 85 degrees on Saturday.

On Saturday, we tackled the Manitou Incline.  I don't have a ton of pictures because I was worried about falling to my death and this is one of those places where they should be banning selfies.  I saw several selfies being taken mid-climb and one guy with a selfie-stick.  This is natural selection at work.

A random person finishing a few minutes after I did. People liked to take pictures and I had to get in line to take a picture from the top.

Anyway, the Incline is famous in Colorado Springs and it's almost a mile of steps going nearly vertical and taking you up 2000 feet in elevation.  Scott has done it for PT in the past and he said the in-shape people can do it in about 40 minutes.  We did it in 54 minutes and that's because I stopped for several breaks.  HOWEVER, I do believe I could've pushed myself harder and faster but I kept waiting for it to break me. Or for it to get so bad that I couldn't continue.  I rarely push myself to my outer limits and there's a few reasons for that but I won't bore you. I had plenty of time to delve into the psychological inner-workings of Kristin as I made my way up that mountain.  Second HOWEVER, everyone was moaning and groaning and panting and huffing and puffing and it tricked my mind into believing it was worse than it actually was.  Therefore I'd like to try again this fall and hopefully improve on my time.  Now that I know what it's actually like, I can probably address the Incline with more vigor.  If that makes any sense.

The best option down from the top is to walk 4 miles down the Barr Trail. This took over an hour and it was quite pleasant.  You're supposed to run down but I didn't and I probably should have because the mesh on my sneakers tore from the pressure of my toes and my toes hurt from said pressure.

The leaves are already starting to turn and it was about 85 degrees and an all-around gorgeous day.  Third HOWEVER...

It's not fall yet.  I don't understand people.  When I say people, I mean 20-something females.  We had to park in Manitou on our way to the Incline and it was a 2 mile walk just to the trailhead and then we had to walk back to the car after.  Through the town, I noticed many females wearing jeans, boots, SWEATERS, and scarves.  It was 85 degrees.  I get that it's the last week of September, but you all have to stop with this.  I mean, I like 65 degree days as much as the next person (I relish them, really, in this desert climate), but you cannot be comfortable in such garb.  You just can't.  Especially because a lot of places here don't have air conditioning.  Sure I'm annoyed that I'm just wearing the same 4 pairs of sandals over and over again to school because it's hot out.  And I do kinda wish I could pull out the leggings.  And not getting a sunburn standing out on recess duty would be great.  But until you've lived in a climate where winter starts October 1st (not fall, winter), you can't truly appreciate a perfect 85 degree September day.  So thank you, Alaska.  I appreciate sweating and sunburn and not getting to wear my new boots at the end of September now.

For the all the complaining people (20-something ladies) do about winter, they sure are eager for the clothing.  I, for one, will be wearing shorts and sandals on the weekends until at least mid-October.

Oh, speaking of fall...The Great Pumpkin Swap is in full swing.  Visit yesterday's post to sign-up!

September 28, 2015


I had to count on my fingers to figure out how long I've been doing this Great Pumpkin Swap.


I'll spare you the basic blogger talk about fall and boots and scarves and all that. The point is that we generally, as a blogging population, enjoy this season and we, as a population, enjoy getting pretty stuff in the mail.  If YOU are interested in participating, here's this year's timeline.

(As always, if no one wants to join in, Becky and I will send each a package and call it a day :):) This is my annual disclaimer so I won't feel bad if no one shows up to the party.)

The procedure is the same as previous years. We're just pushing it later into the season because, I don't know about your location, it's barely fall here in Colorado.

1. Fill out the form to sign up for the swap! Sign-ups end on Friday, October 9th at 11:59pm.
2. By Monday, October 12th, you will get an e-mail from one of us with your swap partner.
3. Once you know your partner, please make contact within 48 hours (by Wednesday, October 14th) to get to know a bit more about each other.
4. Spend $15-$20 (excluding shipping) to put together a fun package for your partner.
5. Mail your package on or before Tuesday, October 27th.
6. Link up with us on Friday, November 6th to share your swap goodies!

September 27, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Recipe challenge, week thirty-eight.

This is nothing new because I feel like I talk about these muffins every fall.

Do you, like me, fear running out of pumpkin?  Our first year in Alaska, there was a pumpkin shortage and that was slightly terrifying.  I don't remember it affecting me directly but I remember people talking about it.  To this day, I keep several cans in the pantry during the fall months.  Just in case.

Our first year in Alaska was also the year I started making these muffins at least twice a fall season.  It's Scott's mom's recipe and I don't actually know where she got it, but we love these muffins.  I've done them as mini-muffins too.

I'm cheating (again) this week and sharing a tried-and-true recipe simply because I made them for a cake walk at the school carnival this past week and I'm making them again, as I type, because I just seriously love them.  I would update with a picture but they're not done yet so maybe later.

Other things I could've put on Instagram this weekend but didn't: ice cream twice in one day, a hike up the Manitou Incline, and Jett goes to obedience school.  All will be discussed on the blog this week.  Eh, maybe not the ice cream thing. That's self-explanatory.

Cheers to Sunday night.  Kind of.  Go make these muffins. I like to eat them for breakfast with peanut butter.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Dry ingredients:

3 1/3 c. flour 
2 T. pumpkin pie spice
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
Mix together and set aside

Wet ingredients:

2 eggs
1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
1/2 c. oil
1 1/2 c. sugar

Blend the wet ingredients with a mixer and add the dry ingredients in 3 batches. You can use up to 1/2 c. of milk to thin the batter if necessary. It should be thick when it's all mixed together.

Add 1 c. of mini chocolate chips. Stir and spoon into a muffin pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

September 24, 2015

Is it really Thursday?

Hmmm...I really don't have anything to share.  Isn't that odd?

Stuff, Things, etc.

I'll leave you with a recommendation today.

I've been listening to every episode I can find of the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast. Being part of a podcast like that would probably be my dream job. (Hey, hire me! If Class Dojo itself commented on my Class Dojo post yesterday, I could probably at least try to get the attention of missedinhistory.com)

I really wish I had more to say.  I'm sick at the moment (congestion, etc), it's still 90 degrees in Colorado (which is almost more than I can handle here at the end of September), and Scott leaves for the field this weekend (yay...no).

Therefore, I'm going to bed before 9:30 and hoping for a productive day tomorrow.  Wish me luck.