Sunday, July 28, 2013

Books & Summer's End

I know I've been pretty MIA with posting lately and I apologize.  The beginning and ending of the school year is always really busy for me.  I officially start back to work next week so I'm at my summer's end!  I'm so excited for this school year to start!  I have some things I'm really excited about doing this year.  I've spent several days in my classroom, getting things cute and clean for the new year.  (Pictures to come!)  Mostly, I've spent the last two weeks reading while snuggling with my kitties.  I'm the team leader of the fifth grade teachers at my school and we decided at the end of the year that we wanted our students to read the Sunshine State Young Reader's Award books and have book discussions based on common core standards, which our school is transitioning to this year.  Long story short, I volunteered to take on the task of reading the books and writing some discussion questions.

Here is my Isabella kitty, modeling the books I've read so far.  She's a total diva and photobombs lots of my pictures!  She's funny because she looks right at the camera like she knows that it loves her.  <3

And I actually finished another book after I took this photo!  So far I've read and written questions for:
1. Double Dog Dare (not pictured)
2. Mousenet
3. Waiting for the Magic
4. Wish Stealers
5. The Candymakers
6. Janitors
7. The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook
8. Floors
9. The Year of the Book
10. The One and Only Ivan

And just for fun, as I tried to retake this photo, this is what Isabella did:

I tell you, she totally knows she's cute!

And in the week of break I have left, I'll be working on reading and writing questions for:
1. Touch Blue
2. Glory Be
3. Fake Mustache
4. Thomas and the Dragon Queen
5. Melonhead

Luckily, one of my friends/coworkers is helping me finish up the last few books, since summer went by a lot faster than I thought it would and I actually have to work two days this coming week at in-services.  I don't mind at all though!  I'm totally happy to go back to workshops and then work and get to see my friends!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Adventure Day

With just a little over a week left before I start back to work, I've been really busy reading books for my students, writing book discussion questions, aligning curriculum, getting my room ready, and writing lesson plans.  Today my friend M and I decided that we needed to take a break and do something together outside of work.  I love hanging out with M because she is always ready for an adventure and we always have a blast together.  Last summer we drove to Orlando for a day of Ikea and classroom decoration shopping.  Back in February we went on another adventure to Orlando for a day of shopping at the outlets over President's Day weekend.  Whenever M and I start planning an adventure, this is how I feel.
Today was no exception!  We started out with a trip to a farmer's market in Jacksonville.  This market is supposed to be one of the larger ones and is open 365 days a year.  It was honestly a little intimidating with so many things to see, smell, and hear.  So many beautiful colors!

After stopping for some lunch, we headed to one of my favorite places on Earth: Chamblin Bookmine!  If you love books and are ever in the Jacksonville area, you will not want to miss this place.  I swear this store is magical.  From the outside, it looks like a normal sized used book store.  When you go inside, you realize it's like Hermione's bag or a Weasley tent.  Inside, it's an enormous maze of books that seems to go for miles and miles in every direction.  It's a book nerd's heaven.  Every direction you look is just row after row after row of books.  Seriously, I love this place so much I can't even explain.  These photos do not even begin to illustrate the size of this place.

One of the many great things about Chamblin Bookmine is they buy used books.  Today, I brought in two bags of used books that I knew we wouldn't read again.  They didn't buy all the books I brought in, but I was able to get $39 in store credit and bought three new (to me) books and still had $5 store credit left over for another day.

Next, M and I did a bit of thrift/window shopping.  We went to Salvation Army, Hut 8, Chocolate Shoe, and my favorite, Posh.  Posh is an adorable "upscale consignment boutique" but I was pleasantly surprised by how fair the prices were.  I tried on a really cute navy blue J Crew A-line skirt that was priced at $12.00 and 25% off.  Unfortunately, it just didn't fit me quite right but I will definitely be keeping an eye on this store.  Also, the store itself was totally girly and adorable.  I love the fashion quotes and decorations on the wall.

This adorable chair was outside of the dressing room.  This would make an awesome craft project!

And these adorable wreaths were hanging up in the entryway of the dressing room.  Another craft project idea for me!  One day I will have one of these for my house!

I'm completely exhausted now but I had so much fun and all I spent was money on gas since M bought me lunch.  :)  There's nothing better than adventure day with a good friend!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sneak Peek

I've been a busy girl this week.  I was finally able to get back into my classroom yesterday and I have so much to do!  Earlier this week, I was busy making lots of fun stuff on my Cricut for my room.  I included a photo with a sneak peek of some of the stuff I've been working on.  A few bulletin boards are closer to finished and I've got all the desks arranged back into groups instead of stacked in a corner.  I made some cute new group signs to hang above the desks.  But oh my, there is still so much to do!  I plan on going back tomorrow to do some more decorating.  I can't wait to officially start work again in just a few weeks!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Packing Light: Beach Outfits

A few days ago, I showed you what I would pack in my bag for a day at the beach while on vacation.  Today I have some fun beach friendly outfits to share with you!  The idea of this (imaginary) trip is basically a four day, three night beach vacation.  In my mind, this would be a vacation that I drive to but you could always tweak it to work for what you need if you were flying.  Let's start with the pieces I've selected.

Top Row:
Faux pearl necklace from Body Central Outlet [similar]

Middle Row:
Kelly green sundress from Bealls Outlet [similar] [similar] [similar]
White popover 3/4 tee from Bealls Outlet [similar]
Blue cutout tee from Bealls Outlet [similar]
Chambray button down from Kohl's [similar]
Pewter medallion flip flops [similar] [similar]

Bottom Row:
Black bermuda shorts from Steinmart [similar]
Pink paisley skirt, made by me [exact fabric] [similar skirt] [similar skirt]

I've selected four days of outfits put together using only the pieces shown above.

And just to show that these few pieces could be really versatile even for a longer trip, I've included some other ways you could combine them to make different outfits to suit your needs.

Outfit 1: green dress, chambray shirt, pearl necklace, flip flops

Outfit 2: white popover, pink necklace, jeggings, flip flops

Outfit 3: blue tee, fedora, black bermudas, flip flops

Outfit 4: chambray shirt, pearl necklace, pink paisley skirt, black belt, flip flops

Outfit 5: blue tee, jeggings, flip flops

Outfit 6: chambray shirt, jeggings, fedora, pink necklace, flip flops

kitty photo bomb!
Outfit 7: white popover, pink paisley skirt, black belt, flip flops

Outfit 8: chambray shirt, black bermudas, pink necklace, flip flops

Outfit 9: white popover, black bermudas, fedora, pink necklace, flip flops

Outfit 10: blue tee, pink paisley skirt, black belt, flip flops

And I'm there are probably other combinations that would also work too.  And just to be sure I was being realistic, I grabbed all the stuff that I would pack for a trip like this and tried it out to see if it really would fit in the bag I picked out.  It did!

Ta da!  Packing light success.  I wish I had been this wise last year when I literally packed my biggest luggage bag for my stay in St. Pete... overkill I know but breaking bad habits takes time.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Hair Dryer Love

For several years now, I've been using this cheapo Revlon hair dryer.  I'm pretty sure it was the cheapest blow dryer at the store.  If I blow dried my hair straight from the shower, it would take about ten to fifteen minutes to get it dry, even now that my hair is shorter.  And I don't have patience for that.  With some advice from my hair stylist, I finally decided to buck up and get something a little better in hopes of cutting down on my hair drying time.

I ended up buying the Conair Infiniti Pro Hair Dryer from Target and I love it!  It has ionic and ceramic technology (whatever that means).  Now the longest I've spent blow drying my hair from soaking wet is about four minutes.  Most of the time it only takes about two minutes.  My hair gets straighter and sleeker.  What also might surprise you though is how small and light this blow dryer is.  Technology is good stuff!  I'm so happy I finally decided to upgrade, just for the simple fact that I don't have to waste as much time drying my hair.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Packing Light: Beach Trip

Just being honest here... I'm only pretending I'm going on a trip to the beach.  LOL!  As a Floridian, I actually only live a few miles from the beach of the Atlantic coast so it seems a bit silly to me to ever go on vacation there but I know lots of people would love that opportunity!  Above is a picture of the beach closest to my house.  You can see the Saint Augustine lighthouse in the background.  However, last year my hubby was sent to Saint Petersburg Beach for a workshop for his job and I got to go with him.  It was a fun little four day getaway.  So I got to thinking about what sorts of items I would pack if I was going on a similar trip now.  Below is a picture from our hotel room last year in St. Pete.  So pretty!

Today I'm going to share my beach bag with you and what I would normally pack and what I would wear if I was going to be spending the day at the beach or poolside.

This pink and orange beach bag has been with me ever since I first moved to Florida seven years ago.  I actually got it on clearance at Walmart for $3!  There are a few reasons that I like this bag.  It's mesh, which means that if you put a wet beach towel in it, it won't get soggy and gross or end up smelling like mildew.  Also, it tapers at the top and has a velcro closure so your stuff doesn't go falling out everywhere if the bag tips over.  And of course, it's pink and adorable.  Another nice feature is the small inner pocket, which is the perfect size to hold your sunglasses.

Inside the bag, I have all of the essentials for a relaxing day at the beach or pool.

I have my favorite beach towel, a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes, a book, sunglasses and a bottle of water.  I also have a clear plastic makeup bag with some other essentials.

Let's take a closer look at what's in the clear bag.  I have a comb to tame crazy salt water or chlorine hair, a few rubber bands for hair and elastic hair ties as well as bobby pins.  Beach hair can get a little crazy in the wind, especially if it's long so I like having hair accessories that can help tame my hair.  I also have Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 50.  This moisturizer is great if your face is sensitive to SPF and sunscreen like mine is.  I'd rather put this on my face than regular sunscreen.  Next to that, I have a travel size bottle of sport sunscreen.  I usually prefer the spray on kind, but this is what I had on hand.  And finally, I have Blistex lip balm with SPF 30 because I like to keep my lips protected from UV rays too.  I like that the clear makeup bag holds all my little items together so they are easy to find.

And of course, swimwear is an important part of the beach and pool experience.  I've learned from experience that if you're going to the beach and there are any sort of waves, you're going to want to wear a bathing suit that ensures none of your lady parts will be popping out anywhere.  I really love this black halter style bathing suit top because it's cute and flattering but it keeps everything locked and loaded.  No surprises here!  The bathing suit bottom does the trick at the pool but if I was going into the ocean, I would double up with the comfortable and cute swim shorts just to be sure I don't end up mooning the other beach goers.  (Please tell me I'm not the only one who has had this happen or worries about this!)

On to the clothes!  I have had this great kelly green beach dress for several years.  I originally bought it at Bealle's Outlet and I think it was around $10.  It's great because it's easy to slip on over your head for the beach or you can dress it up for a night out too.  It's a little baggy and so it flows beautifully in the ocean breeze and it's short enough to not track sand all through the hemline.  However, I do find it can be a bit shapeless.  I'm wearing it here as a beach cover up but even at the beach I like to feel like I have a waistline.  My solution is cheap and easy: tie a ribbon around your waist.  If you happen to take the ribbon off and lose it, no harm done.  I just tied it here in a bow behind me.  Grab your beach hat and bag and you're ready to go!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pretty Pedicure

I posted a little while ago about the pedicure I was sporting that I really wasn't happy with.  I'm glad to say that this one, I love!  I started out with two coats of Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Sun Kissed, which is a sunny orange.  On my big toes only, I stamped the pretty hibiscus flower design from Bundle Monster image plate 318.  I stamped using Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in White On.  My bottle gets used a lot so it's kind of old and thickened, making it perfect for stamping.

I really like the way this pedicure turned out and I find I really haven't wanted to change it up.  I think sometimes when it comes to my fingernails and toenails, I just tend to over think things.  I want to come up with some amazing new color combination when I stamp so I try things that I usually wouldn't and then I end up not being pleased, which is exactly what happened with my last pedicure.  This time, I followed my instincts and kept it simple and I ended up loving it.  Lesson learned.

Shopping My Stash: Hair

After I wrote last week's Shopping My Stash post, I got to thinking about just how many hair products I have stocked up that are also perfectly fine products, but just not my very favorite.  So I decided to shop my stash of hair products as well and try to use up some of the ones I have hanging around under my bathroom sink.  I have way more than just these, but I figured this would be plenty to start with and if I start finishing off these items, I can always choose other ones to replace them.

From left to right:
1. Garnier Fructis Style Full Control Hairspray - This hairspray is okay, but it doesn't hold up to the Florida humidity as well as my Tresemme Tres Two does.
2. Tresemme Thermal Creations Volume Boosting Mousse - Again, I like this mousse but it doesn't give the same kind of volume that my current favorite product does.
3. Aussie Hair Insurance Spray On Leave-In Conditioner - This bottle is almost completely full.  I forgot I even had it.  I prefer cream leave-in conditioner just because I feel like it hydrates more but this one works just fine as well.
4. Redken Hot Sets 22 - I used to use this product a lot when I used to curl my hair a lot.  Over the past year, I've just gotten really lazy and I don't curl my hair that much.  It's a great heat protectant and also helps to hold your hot set style.  Since getting my hair cut a few weeks ago, it's sort of at that awkward in between stage where it isn't really long but isn't really short and doesn't want to cooperate at all.  The top lays under but the bottom flips up, no matter what I do to it.  It's kind of annoying me so I thought since this product both protects and holds a style, maybe it would help my hair to behave.  Right now, my plan is to let my hair grow out past the annoying stage but there is always that temptation for the quick fix of hacking it to a shorter, better behaved length.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Shopping My Stash: Not So Favorite

I often find that when it comes to my makeup, I end up using a lot of the same products over and over.  Usually these are my favorites: favorite powder, favorite undereye concealer, favorite mascara and so on.  The only problem is that I always have lots of not-so-favorite products hanging around too that never get any love.  So lately I've pulled out some items that I've had for awhile but haven't used much because they just aren't my favorites.  I'm going to make more of an effort to use what I have before I buy any replacements.

Pictured above we have: 
1. Physician's Formula Talc Free Mineral Wear Powder - This was a Christmas gift a few years ago from my hubby.  The powder isn't bad.  It's just the stupid gimmicky packaging.  It's one of those powders that has a built in brush so you can just sweep it right on your face... except the brush is awful and scratchy and doesn't allow product to distribute well.  I finally figured I would just unscrew the top and use my own brush.  No problems now!
2. Benefit Boi-ing Industrial Strength Concealer - I actually quite like this concealer for under the eyes.  I'm not sure why I stopped using it but I've been rather enjoying it lately.
3. N.Y.C. Blushable Creme Stick in Plaza Pink - I've had this cream blush stick (and several other shades) for ages now.  When I first got it, I used it all the time but I just kind of forgot about it.  It lasts really well in the summer heat and gives you a natural glowy flush.  This color is really nice too.
4. Maybelline Colossal Volum' Express Mascara - This used to be a favorite but was replaced by Wet N Wild Mega Plump mascara.  I still have this tube and probably should use it up before it dries up.  It's still a great mascara, I just prefer Mega Plump.
5. e.l.f. Studio Eyeshadow Single in Pebble - This eyeshadow is a great shade - natural but just a bit darker than my skin so it gives a good contrast.  I used to really like it but it was replaced by NYX in True Taupe because NYX is a complete matte and a better formula than Pebble.  Pebble actually has a bit of shimmer to it and while I love the color, for some reason it tends to crease on me, no matter what primer I use.
6. Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Gel Cream Liner for Brown Eyes (brown shade) - The brown shade actually doesn't have shimmer in it, which I like.  It's a nice creamy brown shade that defines without looking too harsh on my fair skin.  It lasts really well on the eyes and after over a year, it still hasn't dried up.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July to all of my American friends!  I'm sporting my patriotic outfit.
I'm wearing a white popover tee from Bealles Outlet, red belt from Body Central Outlet, and a navy pencil skirt that I made myself yesterday!  I've had that fabric for months waiting to be made into a skirt and yesterday I was finally motivated to make it.  Today is the perfect occasion to wear it!  The shoes are kind of cut out in this photo but they are sparkley silver flip flops that I bought a few years ago at Payless.  Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Packing Light: Outfits

I've been trying for days to catch a sunny day to photograph some of the outfits I created with the wardrobe pieces I picked out in my last post  but the Florida weather is not cooperating!  It's been cloudy, dark and rainy for the past several days.  Finally this morning, there was sunshine!  But of course, by the time I did my hair and makeup and put on the first outfit, it had started pouring again and was dark.  I just gave up on waiting for the perfect lighting and decided to see how I could do with just the flash on my camera.  The pictures are a little blurry and I had to take them inside, but I think the idea of each outfit still comes across just fine.  Enjoy!

The first outfit is one that I would wear for a long car ride.  The pieces are all comfortable while still being cute.  Closed toe flats would protect my feet from any sudden downpours while running into rest areas and the elastic waist on the jeggings are comfortable enough to sit in a car for fourteen hours.

white popover, cargo vest, jeggings, honey bow flats

The rest of the outfits could be worn for any occassion: dinner out with family, a day at the zoo, visit to the flea market.  You could mix and match pretty much any top and bottom with different accessories to make lots of different looks.  Here are just a few that I liked.
pink button down, yellow and pink skirt, cognac belt, pink flip flops

black paisley button down, capris, pink flip flops, pink pendant necklace, optional fedora
white popover, khaki shorts, pink flip flops, pink pendant necklace, optional fedora
fedora, white button down, dark bootcut jeans, pink teardrop necklace, pink flip flops
fedora, white elbow length tee, cargo vest, cognac belt, dark bootcut jeans, pewter flip flops
black tee, long pink bead necklace, medium wash bootcut jeans, pink flip flops, optional fedora

Monday, July 1, 2013

Packing Light: Picking Wardrobe Pieces

After using Go Chic Or Go Home to plan which pieces of my wardrobe would give me the most flexibility, I would then narrow it down to about one top per day of the trip and about half that many bottoms.  When choosing these pieces, I decided to stick with mostly neutral pieces with pops of pink color, playing on the fun pink flip flops I recently bought.

white 3/4 length tee (Steinmart), black paisley button down shirt, white 3/4 length popover tee (Bealls Outlet), black tee (Marshalls), olive cargo vest, pink button down (Ann Taylor Outlet), white button down

dark wash jeggings (Walmart), yellow and pink skirt (made by me), medium wash bootcut jeans (Loft Outlet), khaki casual shorts (JC Penney from 2 years ago), medium wash capris (Walmart), dark wash bootcut jeans (Loft Outlet)

honey bow flats (Bass Outlet), pink flip flops (Rue21), pewter flip flops (Walmart, last year) (I selected the closed toe flats just in case of cold weather or rain.)

fedora hat, cognac cinch belt, long pink bead necklace, pink pendant necklace (Rue21), fuchsia teardrop necklace

white tank top, lightweight zip up hoodie, black lounge pants (Target), sleep shorts (Walmart), navy T-shirt

In my next post, I hope to share some different outfits that could be made with the tops, bottoms, shoes, and accessories that I picked out.  For now, I wanted to share one strategy for packing that is helpful if you are flying or traveling by car.

Large Suitcase

I pack most of my clothes in my larger suitcase.  Notice how I packed my hat.  I turned it upside down and filled it with some of my under clothes (tank tops and bike shorts that are not pictured above).  This way the hat keeps its shape and also maximizes the amount of room I have in my bag.  The plastic bag contains shoes.  The bag keeps them from getting your clothes dirty.  My necklaces are placed in a clear makeup bag.

Carry On Bag
In my smaller carry on size bag, I usually pack what you might think of as an overnight bag.  If I arrive late and don't feel like unloading everything from the car, I can just grab this bag until the next day.  Of course, if you were going to fly, you wouldn't pack quite the same way.

Toiletries are on the bottom, in a separate bag like this or sometimes the hanging bags.  These kind of plastic or nylon bags are nice because if something leaks a little, it will still protect most of your clothes and other items.  If you're really worried about it, there's always Ziplock bags.  Tucked along the sides are a change of clothes or two, including pajamas.  On the top, I stack my makeup, flat iron, hair dryer, and any other tools I might need to do my hair and makeup.  The bag I pack these items in sometimes varies, but I always use it in pretty much the same way.  If I'm flying, I'll usually put the toiletries in my larger bag so I can make it through security without having them confiscated.