Quote of the Week


"You must not lose faith in humanity.  Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." 

~ Gandhi

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Elf the Musical

Last night I went and saw Elf the Musical with two of my college girlfriends.  All three of us are HUGE fans of the movie, and were quoting all of Will Ferrell's hilarious one liners non stop throughout happy hour up until the moment the curtain opened.

Now, we all know Will Ferrell's character Buddy makes Elf the movie.  His child-like awe, enthusiasm, and ridiculous behavior is the best part.  So... we weren't sure how that would translate to theater, with a different character playing the lead, Buddy the Elf.  Plus, the addition of song and dance numbers, something that isn't really present in the movie.

The verdict: the play was hilarious!!!  The play followed the same storyline as the movie, with entertaining and jazzy song and dance numbers peppered throughout.  There was a particularly funny Santa number with a slough of drunk Santas marooning at a bar - amazing!  And Buddy the stage version - hilarious!  So funny!  My friends and I were laughing out loud, and talking about the play all the way home (always a good sign in my opinion).

It's only playing in Seattle or NYC, if you live close by, I highly recommend it!

Crispy Lemon Zest

I saw a culinary tip in my latest Martha Stewart Living magazine, and I can't wait to try it - crisp lemon zest.  According to Martha, "frying zest gives it a crisp texture and a caramelized flavor."  Brilliant, right?  Simply use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind of 2 lemons, slice the peels into matchsticks.  Place 1/4 inch oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  Add zest to hot oil; cook about 3 seconds.  Strain oil before serving, or use oil and zest together in a marinade or dressing. 
Can't wait to try this!

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Light It Up

It's a Christmas-lights-putting-up-kind-of-Saturday!  I realize we're starting a wee bit late, but better late than never, right?  One of my favorite holiday memories as kids was driving through a handful of different neighborhoods oohing and awing at the glowing Christmas lights brightening up the night.  

In the spirit of the holiday season, I attended my husband's holiday party last night, and I'm also partaking in my college girlfriends' 8th annual ornament exchange.  Hard to believe we've been out of college for EIGHT years now, but I'm happy the tradition has lived on as we've grown up.  

Now for a few holiday links from around the web.  Have a merry weekend!

* * *

+ Now bring us some figgy pudding!  Centerpieces for Christmas dinner.

+ Ho Ho Ho on your walls


+ A magical night at the North Pole (complete with reindeer buffet)

+ Merry "Kissmas" and a "Chappy" New Year

+ Snacks for Santa - peppermint brownie pops


* * *

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Dinner Last Night: Carrot Soup

It was feeling like a soup kind of night.  During the election hoopla, I came across this recipe, Ann Romney's carrot soup, and bookmarked it for a later date.  The Romneys may have lost the election, but they sure know how to make a hearty soup! 

Cats vs. Dogs

Usually I find that my friends fall into one of two categories - they are cat people or dog people.  I'm definitely a cat person.  Not only do I own a cat (and not a dog), but I prefer the docile, lazy, quiet-yet-loving nature of cats.  They are independent, self-sufficient, and affectionate when cared for.  While I grew up with dogs and plan on having a dog in the future, I sometimes find dogs constant neediness for attention exhausting.
 
A friend sent me this video which poses the cat vs. dog question through a new lens.  Entertaining to say the least, I was laughing out loud!  If the typical actions of cats and dogs were transferred to humans, it might look something like this...
No matter your stance on the issue, watch for a laugh! 

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TGIF Returns!

Remember the good old days of TGIF?  I don't know about you, but Friday nights in elementary school into early middle school were the best!  Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Step by Step, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper.  Those nights were laden with friend sleepovers, heaping bowls of popcorn and cookie dough ice cream.  Oh, the memories...

Well, guess what?  Corey Matthews and Topanga Lawrence are returning as the PARENTS in a new Disney Channel spinoff, Girl Meets World!  While I'm probably not planning on watching this new show regularly, I thought it was kind of exciting that some of our favorite TV characters from childhood were reuniting!

TGIF!

Seasonal Scents

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Lights are already springing up in neighborhoods, red cups are grazing coffee shop countertops, and that holiday warmth is in the air.  

One of my favorite things the approaching Christmas season is the familiar holiday scents.  Evergreen, gingerbread, peppermint, orange + cloves, all of the wonderful, cozy, homey scents that by aroma alone signify Christmas.  This time of year, I always indulge in the ever-fragrant Bath & Body Works candles.  This year, I am loving White Barn No. 2 Chestnut and Clove.  Quite a long name, for a holiday scent I realize, but even so, this candle is worth a burn.

Wishing you a sweet smelling season!  What are your favorite holiday scents?

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Dinner Last Night: Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

I made soup on Sundays two weeks in a row, woot woot!  Another pin-turned-reality find, tomato basil parmesan soup.  The best part about this soup, the majority of the prep is done via crockpot.  Cha-ching!  Talk about a time-saver.  

I added the first batch of ingredients to the crockpot around 11 AM, ran errands and did school projects during the day, and then finished the soup with a roux later that evening at 6 PM.  Dinner's ready!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Wishing you a holiday full of family, friends, and thankfulness.
Eat up!
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Two Years Ago Today...

Two years ago today, my husband asked me to marry him.
What a wonderful ride it has been!
Happy Engagement Day my love!
Looking forward to all the years to come. 143.


Dinner Last Night: Curried Pumpkin Soup with Mushrooms

Way back in January, I made a New Year's resolution to try and make soup on Sundays...  Obviously that's been super successful, seeing as it's mid-November... But hey, this is my last ditch effort to fulfill that goal and make this Sunday soup tradition happen!  Another pin-turned-reality dinner last night - curried pumpkin soup with mushrooms.  Y-U-M.  This soup was incredibly easy with minimal ingredients, and boasts the flavors of fall.  It's creamy but chunky, smooth but spicy - all in all, a new fall favorite to add to the mix.  

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Coffee vs. Water

Do Seattleites drink more espresso than water?
What do you think?

Well...the answer is YES!  Check out this article, it's crazy to think that Seattleites truly consume more coffee than water on a daily basis.  While I'm not sure this is a fact to pride ourselves on, I can't say I'm terribly surprised.  Seattle is undoubtedly a coffee culture.  While other cities also enjoy their java, according to this article, Seattle is the only place in the US where this fact is true.

The article also states that part of this may be due to the fact that Seattleites avoid drinking bottled water (it's not green people).  In lieu of reaching for a bottle of water, we reach for coffee.  

Thoughts?  
What is the coffee culture like in your city?

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Dinner Last Night: Ramen Vegetable Soup

I don't know about you, but in college I ate a lot of Top Ramen.  I know my friend Heather can attest to those days. :) Gosh, looking back, I think, did I'm thankful I am long past the days of adding powdered chicken flavoring to water and calling it a meal.  But back then, it was such an easy, quick dinner that was ideal for the busyness of college life.  

Until recently, this was the only ramen I knew of. I didn't realize another, truer version of this soup existed until I visited Japan in 2010.  Wow, talk about a wake up call!  The authentic, real jam-packed savory bowls of noodles, meat, and vegetables put those powdered chicken broth packets to shame.  

This ramen vegetable soup recipe was simple enough, and Martha Stewart endorsed (always a welcome seal of approval).  While it's not quite the overflowing bowl of gustatory loveliness I had in Japan, it was tasty and easy to concoct.  Funny enough, it calls for those familiar grocery store noodle packets (minus the powdered broth, of course).  Since I had more vegetables on hand, I added in mushrooms and peas to the mix.  One thing to keep in mind for reheating, the ramen noodles soak up a LOT of broth, so it might be beneficial to keep some extra on hand for leftovers.


Dinner Last Night: Butternut Squash Mushroom Tart with Gruyere

Well, I couldn't resist cooking up one of the fall eats I bookmarked right away!  Dinner last night was butternut squash mushroom tart with gruyere.  The recipe claims the total time prep/cook time to be 30 minutes, which is a total lie! This recipe took approximately 1 hour (if not longer), but the results were well worth the invested effort. The gruyere was a perfect compliment to the flavors of butternut squash, pancetta, and shiitake mushrooms.  Complete with a blue cheese salad, a bottle of red wine, and we had ourselves a delicious Sunday night dinner.

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November Chill

Cold has descended upon the Seattle area.  One minute it was breezy, crisp, and feeling very autumn, the leaves rich with color and full on trees...And then, what seemed like a nanosecond later, trees are bare, and streets are carpeted with yellowy red mulch, and a wintry chill hangs in the air.  Yesterday, the temperature read 32 degrees, but skies were dry.  Not quite snow season, but getting close. Now, I realize this may not be considered cold in your neck of the woods, but winter boots, scarves, and puffy coat weather has arrived here.  

I'm currently enjoying a four-day weekend off school, thanks to Veterans day and a parent/teacher conference day that I opted to not use (having done all of mine before/after school in recent weeks).  I've spent the morning combing my stack of fall magazines that usually sit idly as I can never find the time to read them, but now I am leisurely perusing for comforting, fall recipes.  

Here are some favorites on my "to cook" roster, gathered both the web and reliable stash of Martha Stewart Living, Cooking Light, and Real Simple magazines.








Now, let's see if I can really make every single one of these to enjoy at home!

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Currently...

Listening to this via audio book...


Watching this new series...

Enjoying this cover...

And this instrumental cover...

While sipping a glass of this...

What are you up to?

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November Weekend

What a fun fall weekend!  Friday night, we celebrated my best friends' engagement at the Novely Hill Januik Winery with an elegant dinner in the barrel room, complete with "How well do you know the couple?" trivia, fine wine, and decadent desserts.  

Saturday, my husband and I double-dated with my parents to see the new Ben Affleck movie, Argo.  The movie was incredibly gripping, suspenseful, and had you at the edge of your seat, wondering, What's going to happen next?  It was very good, I'd recommend it!

Sunday, we readied our house for some home improvements happening next week, some pipe repairs in our basement and a slough of new windows that are going to be installed.  

How was your weekend?

Fall Weekend Link Love

After a few packed weekend trips, full afternoons of parent-teacher conferences, I am really excited to do a whole lot of nothing this weekend!  Well, not technically nothing, a hair cut + color, pumpkin carving, and a baby shower, but significantly less scheduled than my last few weekends.  
How are you spending the last weekend of October?

+ I want these cat loafers!

+  Ever wanted to be a snail for Halloween?  

+ Low fat pumpkin smoothie. yum!

+ Getting ready for scarf season

+ Wish I was relaxing here.  Next vacation perhaps?

+ Lemon on pizza? Why not?!

+ Loving the polka dot trend

+ Cute pennant necklace

+ How to make flavored sea salts at home, yes please!

+ Frequent moviegoer? Check out this app

+ Spiced up morning oatmeal

+ DIY ice lanterns

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A Year Ago Today...

 Hard to believe it has already been a year!  
Some days it feels like 5, others it feels like yesterday.
Though today is a touch more rainy than a year ago today, the occasion is just as sweet.
Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband!  We are celebrating tonight by staying in, dining on defrosted red velvet wedding cake, chicken pho, and a movie.  Sounds quite perfect if you ask me.
I love you to the moon!

Goodreads

One thing you probably know about me, if you've ever read this blog before is that I am an avid reader.  I rarely turn down a book recommendation from a friend, colleague, or family member, and am always eager for my fave blogs to update their own "recent read" posts, just so I can scour the stacks for a copy of my own to promptly devour.

But keeping track of all those books is a tiresome task, that's hard to keep up with.  Hence - Goodreads.  Ever heard of it?  I love it!  Essentially this website tracks all of your past, future, and recent reads, let's you rank and/or comment accordingly.  This is sooo helpful to me as I tend to scrawl book recommendations down on post-its, stuff in my purse, and then proceed to lose...  

Once you have friends on goodreads, you can peek at their recent reads, recommendations and go from there!  Easy peasy!  

So, you want to trade reviews and be my goodreads friend?

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Queue Come Early

It's always this time of year, when life is back in high gear, school is at its busiest, that all of my holds in my library queue and suddenly ready for check out, materializing in the flesh at my local library.  Normally, I wait around for weeks, months at a time for a bestseller hold to grace the shelves in my name, ready for my punctual pick up and prompt read.  

I recently got an email that 5 books I've long been coveting have now arrived at my local library.  As if to say, SURPRISE, we're here, come read us!  Needless to say, that will most likely not be happening.  So instead, I'm making a fall reading list - for those spare moments I have to read something that doesn't pertain to my job.

* MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
I've started this book, and it's been an enjoyable read so far.  The premise is a married 20-something girl, moves with her husband to Chicago, and her desperate search for a new BFF.  The memoir chronicles her 52 girl dates, fix-ups, and setups in search a local best friend.

* Apron Anxiety by Alyssa Shelasky 
Not too familiar with the plot line, but has gotten rave reviews.  Essentially a memoir of learning to cook, embracing the art of cooking, eating, and food with open arms.

* Becoming Sister Wives by the Browns
I know what you're thinking, and don't judge!  I've seen a few episodes of this show, and was totally baffled at the premise, 1 man, 4 wives, seriously?  I was immediately curious to understand how the inner workings of how this unorthodox relationship worked, and now this book provides the inside scoop!

* The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I've heard nothing but great things, from bloggers to librarians alike.  'Nuff said!

Okay, now I need to find time to actually READ all of these...
Suggestions?

**UPDATE: I did finish MWF Seeking BFF - 4/5 stars, Apron Anxiety - 3/5 stars, The Fault in Our Stars - 4/5 stars, and abandoned Becoming Sister Wives after 2 chapters (don't bother with this one people, trust me!).

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Dinner Last Night: Roasted Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup

Our Seattle sunshine has surprised everyone and decided to stick into early October, illuminating our city in a golden, autumn light.  While it isn't quite feeling like fall, I decided that in my kitchen, it will at least taste like fall!  I've been waiting for chilly air to set in so I could kick off the season with soups, but I figured, soup is really delicious in any weather, so why wait?

First up, roasted cauliflower and white cheddar soup.  The recipe calls for "aged white cheddar," I used Kerrygold white cheddar, and I subbed in milk for cream, both substitutions didn't seem to change the outcome too much.  This soup was delicious, and very easy to make.  In addition, it was filling without being overly rich (you could always lighten it further by cutting the cream and adding in more vegetable stock).  What soup should I make nex?


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Pumpkinpalooza

I know it's not for everyone, but I love the flavor of pumpkin.  My husband does not share my enthusiasm and tends to turn his nose up at the likes of seasonal delicacies like pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin ice cream, and pumpkin bread.  He really is missing out.

Since I'm a pumpkin enthusiast, I've been trying my darndest to round up every sweet and savory pumpkin recipe under the sun to share with the rest of you who share my affection for pumpkin flavored things.  Here goes nothing... Ooh, and please feel free to comment with any fave pumpkin recipes I might've missed!














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Highlights of Fall

Have I told you how excited I am that it's fall?  While I am thoroughly the Indian summer that is currently underway in Seattle, I am looking ahead to all the loveliness that is fall.  

A few things fall things I'm excited for:

+ Our first anniversary, I can hardly believe it's almost been a full year since our wedding!  With our anniversary comes our inaugural anniversary trip.  We're headed to Friday Harbor, can't wait!!

+ Hot cocoa, mulled cider, spiced tea, pumpkin spice lattes...mmm!

+ Fall clothes!  I've definitely worn my summer clothing thin, so I'm excited to pull out the scarves, sweaters, wellies, and warm + cozy items from the depths of my closet.

+ Weddings!  Our friends Carla + Ryan are tying the knot this weekend, can't wait to dance the night away, DJ Greasy style!  haha...

+ Fall recipes; heart-warming soups, stews, casseroles, and cassoulets.  I'll defs be turning my oven on this season to crank up the heat!

+ 30th Birthdays!  This is the year of turning the dirty 3-0 for most of my friends and I, and we have some fun shindigs on the horizon, first with a dual birthday weekend getaway in October!

+ Babies!  Three of my college girlfriends are due with their first babies in October.  Literally, October 1, October 10, and October 17th - what are the odds, right?  None have made their debuts yet, but we are eagerly awaiting texts, emails, and updates!

+ Halloween!  No costume selected as of yet, but I'm open to suggestions...

+ Clear days, crisp air, vibrant leaves on the trees, eventually carpeting the streets.

Oh, how I love fall!  What are you excited for?

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Weekend Link Love

It's here!  Fall is definitely in the air.  With a busy few weekends ahead of us, I'm quite excited to do a whole lot of NOTHING this weekend.  No plans, no schedules, no agenda.  Doesn't that sound lovely?  Enjoy your weekend!

+ Paint dipped furniture

+ It's not too early to plan for Christmas, right?  Count down to Christmas activities!

+ Pumpkin monkey bread with salted maple glaze - yum!

+ Cross stitched pumpkins, perfect for fall

+ Creative centerpieces for holiday decorating

+ Your own wedding app, sooo cool!

+ Healthy dinner option - quinoa sliders, my sister would love these!

+ Felt bookends

+ Jack-o-lantern stuffed peppers

+ River rock boot trays, for collecting snow, so clever!

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Paraben Free Skin Care

Forgive me if this post gets a little "preachy," but I thought this information was too critical to not pass on.  Do you know what parabens are?  I hate to admit, but I wasn't very knowledgable on the subject...  I recognized this word from the ingredient list of many of the bottles in my shower, but I assumed it was just another ingredient in the mix and nothing more.  However, when a friend told me that doctors found traces of parabens in the tumor they removed from her breast cancer surgery, I was utterly shocked.  That reality check was all I needed to get myself in the know..and NOW!

When I googled "paraben definition," three separate definitions all looked almost identical to this: "paraben: an antifungal ingredient commonly used as preservatives in skin care products that is linked to hormonal changes in the body as well as an increased risk of breast cancer."

What?!  And to think I've been blindly putting these parabens into my body.  Uh-uh, not anymore!  This was the kick in the pants I needed to revamp my skincare for a paraben-free regiment.  

If this post is at all is intriguing, inspiring, or a skin care game-changer for you, I suggest you start here: The Cosmetic Database.  This database lists the stats on most brands of makeup, shampoo, toothpaste, and skincare products.  Use to find out what's really natural, paraben free, which brands have higher risk factors, the list goes on.  But, beware - this is a major time suck, I spent a good hour and a half scouring this website before I managed to pull myself away.

From this website, I discovered Yes To brand.  This brand uses natural ingredients and is entirely paraben free.  I originally bought the Yes to Cucumber face wipes and Yes to Tomatoes clear skin moisturizer on Amazon, but last week I discovered Target is now carrying the brand, hooray!  Products are affordable, with fresh scents, and leave your skin feeling healthy and clean.  

Here's another perspective on the paraben free trend via real simple.  While I'd like to eventually try and go all natural, it's been pricy to make the switch.  As of now, my game plan has been to try and cut out the amount of paraben products I use, see what new products I like, and keep up the momentum. 
Have you found any must-try paraben free products you'd like to share?

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Balance

Sorry for the lack of recent blog posts...  

With a new school year kicking off, teaching a new grade level, and juggling my personal life, blogging has unfortunately drawn the short straw.  I'm hoping to jump start my posting in the upcoming weeks, so if you're still out there...thanks for staying with me!

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Weeknight Baking: Nutella Stuffed Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday night, I had a long to-do list, a stack of papers to grade, in addition to laundry, on top of a handful of other tasks, but I dropped them all when I saw this recipe on Cup of Jo, nutella-stuffed sea salt chocolate chip cookies.   Holy cow, can you say DELICIOUS!?!  

Right there and then, I made an executive decision to ditch everything else on my list, and begin baking  straightaway.  I made a mess of my kitchen, and waited eagerly for the timer to ding to signal the completion of my cookie dream turned reality.  Mmmmm!  And you know what, as I was eating one of these delicious cookies, those tasks on my to do list just didn't seem that important any more.  

I guess this just goes to show the healing, stress-relieving, all-encompassing power of a good cookie.

Downton Abbey

Season 3...who's excited??
I am!!

Netflix Addiction

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I made the executive decision to end our cable service.  In lieu of our $100+ a month on cables, we invested in a Roku, a device that enables streaming on your TV.  Instead of our usual channels, we actually found MORE channels at our disposable, which wasn't in our original "watch less TV" plan.  

Now all of a sudden, entire series were available to us immediately, one episode flowing easily and effortlessly into the next.  I attribute the beginning of our Netflix-streaming spiral to Friday Night Lights.  It all started with Tim Riggins...  Having heard the hype about this beloved cult series, my husband and I shrugged, figuring, "it's an episode, who knows, we may like it."  Well, one episode turned into two, three...and then suddenly we found ourselves choking up at the series finale....five seasons later.. Um, yeah, so much for watching less TV!

Now, my latest past time is reliving my late 90's high school-era TV series by revisiting old favorites, Felicity and Dawson's Creek.  Right now I'm knee-deep in the Dawson/Joey/Jen/Pacey drama, laughing at their fashion mishaps, and enjoying reliving a similar high school experience before texting, twitter, facebook, and the like.  

But still, I must warn you...Netflix is dangerous!  Worth it - but dangerous.  Use at your own risk, be prepared to indulge in a series, or two...

A Musical Weekend

Whew!  We just arrived home after a whirlwind wedding weekend in California.  In two days we flew to Los Angeles, drove north three and a half hours, celebrated a rehearsal dinner + wedding with family, drove back to LA to fly out of LAX and just returned home...(and the weekend after the first day of school, no less!  Needless to say, I'm a wee bit tired.  

On Sunday, my cousin Michael married his fiance Tamara at Santa Margarita Ranch, just outside San Luis Obispo, California.  The venue was beautiful, a restored barn tempered with twinkly lights, a novelty train ride, and one stunning shabby chic barn bursting with rustic charm.   While the temperatures were scorching (105 degrees at one point), it was a lovely, heartfelt ceremony and a lively, musical reception.  My cousin is a musician, and his band, The Leftover Cuties played (you may remember their song from this commercial that played during the Olympics).  Since most of Michael & Tamara's friends are also musically inclined, there were many impromptu songs where people just pulled out instruments and chimed in, contributing to the entertainment of the evening.  It was quite the event!

Pictures to follow, bed time now...

Back in the Saddle Again

I made it through the first day of first grade!  Hallelujah!  And after just one day...I'm beat!  I've met my students and families, and everything went according to plan, which is always a relief.   It's so nice to finally have little faces to go with the names I've been looking at, alphabetizing, and making labels for all week.  Looking forward to a great rest of the week!

But tonight, as I attempt to unwind and relax after a chaotic first day back (the first day back is ALWAYS chaotic, ask any teacher!), I'm pretty stoked to recline on the couch, indulge in some Chinese takeout, and go to bed early.   What a wild and crazy life I lead. ;)

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Quote of the Week


"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."
-William Arthur Ward

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Back to School

School starts on Tuesday... where did the time go?
I'm teaching a new grade level this year, so this school year will definitely be an adventure!
My classroom is 95% ready, but somehow I feel like no matter what I do it won't be perfect.  I guess that's the Type-A teacher in me.

Are your kids heading back to school next week?  If so, wishing you a happy first day!

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Quote of the Week

"Education is the the movement from darkness to light."
~ Allan Bloom

School starts one week from today...

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Toothless Wonder

Did I tell you my cat had 11 teeth extracted last week?  Yes, you read that right...11!  ELEVEN!   How many teeth does a cat have, you might be asking yourself.  Thirty to be exact.  I had to google it and then confirm with the vet (just to be sure). 

Yes, my poor Jenga went in for a routine teeth cleaning (or at least, I had assumed it was routine).  I had to sign a sizable load of paperwork to even release her for this routine procedure.  A few hours later, I received a phone call, telling me my poor cat has a genetic condition where her body is basically viewing her teeth as "foreign," trying to rid itself of them, so many of her teeth were basically decaying in her mouth.  OUCH!  Can you believe that?!  My poor, poor kitty, I felt so bad for her.  The vet said she had probably been in a lot of pain up until this point, which made me feel horrible (since she hadn't been acting any different).  Luckily the procedure would alleviate much of her discomfort and lead her on a path to feeling better ASAP...phew!

So a few hours later, I picked up my groggy, drugged up, out-of-it cat, 11-teeth lighter, to take her home to recuperate and sleep off the worst of it.  A week and a few bottles of medicine later, she is doing much, much better.  Turns out, 11 missing teeth isn't as obvious as one would think.  Now, she's got one mean snaggletooth to boast about at the end of the day.  :) 

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Link Love

This is one of the last weekends left before we head back to school!  I'm looking to enjoy the last few days of summer vacation at a BBQ with friends, among other low key activities.  Have a wonderful weekend!

+ Very cool driftwood wreath

+ Ever had a ginger-strawberry pie?

+ Favorite fall trend - lace, lace, and more lace!

+ Pretty ombre cakes

+ Custom birthday wine labels 

+ Excited to try this new kale salad with shredded gruyere + hazelnuts

+ Cutest Halloween costume for a new mama & baby

+ Soft curls via flat iron (I have seen this done, it does work!)



Weeknight Baking: Brownies

This brownie recipe via Smitten Kitchen popped up in my google reader feed yesterday, and I was powerless to resist.  With no plans for the evening, a stocked pantry, and plenty of eggs to bring the brownies to life, my mind was made up.  Brownies for dessert?  Yes, please!  I would've posted my own picture had I had the time to actually take one, since I pretty much ate these straight from the pan.   If you're in the mood for brownies, I recommend you try these!

Target Finds

I made a massive Target run today, and had plenty of loot to show for it!  Don't you just love Target?  I do, a little too much I fear... I've taken up the habit of making explicit, finite lists of what I need before I enter the premises, otherwise I end up leaving arms loaded up with unnecessary goods. Some of my better finds from this excursion include...

Orla Kiely Method soap - I'm always a sucker for eye-catching packaging, and the patterns adorning these bottles are simply lovely!  Even the flavors are fancy - vanilla chai, bay leaf, and primrose hand soap + ginger peach countertop spray.  I took the opportunity to play around with my new camera to photograph their colorful, whimsical designs.  Thanks Holly for the insider tip!
 Revlon ColorBurst lip butters - these are A-MAZING!  Take the texture of Chapstick and pair with rich, luscious color.  The lipstick goes on creamy and smooth, and the shades vary from matte to shimmery.  My personal faves are peach parfait (shimmer), berry smoothie (matte), and candy apple (matte).  Plus, they are $7, which you can't beat for a good lipstick.
Mrs. Meyer's dishwashing soap - the best!  They always come out with the best scents and there are always new scents entering the mix.  My most recent favorite - honeysuckle.  Sweet + clean!
Leopard pumps!  These were definitely a last minute, impulse purchase, but I thought they were fun for fall!
Any chance you also find yourself adding random or surprise items into your basket during your adventures shopping here?