Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Favorite Thing

Athletic is not a word I would use to describe myself. Sure, I participated in sports, dance and cheer leading; but I was never considered an athlete. I remember my mom bought me this great shirt that said, "Cheer Leading Is My Sport". It  listed all the reason why cheer was considered a sport. I'd argue with anyone who wanted to say different. Still I never considered myself athletic. In my family (or more to the point in my father's eyes) you were athletic if you played baseball and were good at it. You were athletic if you played football  and you were good at it. I was not great at soft ball. My father called me Missy No-Hit- a nickname that has stuck with me since I was eight. I detested basketball. I gave it my all, but I just did not have the coordination and I did not like the pressure of trying to get the ball from the opposing team. So when my husband muttered that I was athletic while on a walk the other night I almost stopped dead in my tracks. Me? Athletic?

This past month I have been working out about 5-6 days a week trying to follow the Rockin' Body workout plan from Beach Body. It took me some time to figure out that I'd probably like to dance as a form of exercise. After having to take a few days off because of medical concerns I arm just a week away from completing the 30 days. Recently the Baby Monster has wanted to stay by my side no matter what and trying to get a work out in has been hard. In order to make him happy and to still stick to my work out sessions I decided we'd go on walks instead. On Sunday morning I stepped it up a notch by tracking my walks and route to see how fast I walk and how far I walk by using this great app called Map My Walk. I'm hooked!
On Sunday morning the Baby Monster and I were up bright and early because he still does't understand that mommy would like to sleep in past seven on the weekends. The teenage years are going to be blissful! Hopefully he'll enjoy sleeping in. Anyway...  We were both cranky so I decided we needed a morning walk. I was curious and wondered how far we really walked by taking our usual route. That's when I searched for an app and found the awesome Map My Walk. I started the the workout and the music on my phone began playing automatically. Usually the Baby Monster and I take quiet walks, but I thought the change-up would be good. It wasn't was great! Duh! Why did I not play music while walking before? My pace gathered speed and off we were. My stroller was whizzing by while I pushed it with a purpose.
The Baby Monster and me right before our walk. He was one cool dude in his sunglasses. 

It turns out I walked 1 mile in 18:02 minutes and our entire route was 1.46 miles. The amazing thing to me was that I couldn't get enough. I was sad when we made it back to our destination. The morning was beautiful and cool, the sun was shining, the music made me feel like I was on vacation ( I don't get to go many places at this point in my life...boring, I know.). 

There were moments when my feet weren't picking up fast enough to walk my next step and I wanted to burst into a run. Running and I do not get along. We are frenemies. I want to run, but once I do I become frustrated with how hard it is that I stop. Quitting attitude? Yes. Then again I am a person who was never considered athletic and in the past I've constantly failed at every exercise attempt so this feeling of accomplishment through exercise is foreign to me. I had a sheen of sweat all over me yet I was energized instead of gasping for breath. I realized Rockin' Body helped me with that by building up my stamina through constant dancing. Oh yes, I felt very accomplished. 

On Tuesday the hubs asked if I wanted to go a for walk. I gladly said yes and out we went. The idea was to go for a leisurely walk. The slow pace wasn't working for me. I just wanted to take off because I remembered that my last walk was SO. MUCH. FUN. The hubs couldn't keep up! He was huffing and puffing, muttering and complaining. We switched roles! He soon found the humor which kept me going. He encouraged me to keep the fast pace and bust butt. That's when I heard him mutter, "Well she's become athletic." Those words made me feel that all of my actions and small changes have been worth it. My hard work is paying off. 

The Baby Monster and I went for another walk this evening. Instead of thinking of my walk as a chore, I was able to look forward to it as a fun activity. This is HUGE for me. Finding that app was a great thing because I feel challenged now. My goals are to gain feet on my walks and cut down the time it takes to walk a mile. Tonight's walk was awesome! I have heard of runner's high, so I wonder if there is a walker's high. Listening to music, watching the sky fade into dusk and feeling the pavement beneath my feet took me to this place where everything was perfect. Once I was in that place I was able to push myself. 

Tonight I shaved off about a minute and a half from my walk and gained 13 feet since Sunday. I'm proud of myself. A few months ago I dreaded the idea of sweating in the heat of a Florida summer in the name of exercise. Now I am embrace it. I've failed so many times before, however something feels different this time. Dare I call it confidence? Whatever it may be I'm holding on to it. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

ipsy Glam Bag - May Glam Bag Review

Happy Saturday! The Baby Monster and I were up bright and early this Saturday morning because he doesn't understand that he can sleep in on weekends. I think my hubs has him trained. All this week they both slept in until 7-7:30 a.m. while I got ready for work. The hubs goes to work this morning and the Baby Monster is wide awake at 6:15. Why?! He's currently chilling with his friend Mickey Mouse, so I have a few moments to write. Okay, here it goes...

Okay, I'm just going to put it out there. I fail at being a girl. My hair hardly looks great because it's mostly up in pony tails. I try to figure out how to do cute braids, but only end up frustrated when my fingers become tangled in the frizzy mess. Sometimes I can pull off a cute outfit, however it's the result of going shopping with one of my friends who I enlist as my personal shopper. She just "gets it". I never thought I'd own a pair of skinny jeans. I'm in Khol's for two hours with her and I come home with a pair of skinny jeans that I love! Then there is a makeup. I love makeup. Makeup doesn't love me. It's like a foreign language that I've been trying to learn and can never quite understand it. There is so much product out there! I never know what to get or what works for me because I hate spending the money on something and wind up hating; so when one of my friends told me about ipsy when we went out for coffee I was all over it. 

For just a $10 subscription I get the chance to try out beauty products that I never knew about, let alone would have thought to use each month. The products are mailed to you in a fun Glam Bag that is personalized for you after taking a short quiz. This month I received my first Glam Bag. I couldn't wait for it arrive. Check out ipsy so you can subscribe for your own Glam Bag.

Being that this was my first ipsy experience, I had to snap a shot of the adorable bright fuchsia packaging my Glam Bag was mailed in. And just look at my Glam Bag! I love the print. I just realized I forgot to include a picture of the Hang Ten Classic Sport sunscreen with the rest of my loot. Never fear! I'm here to review the contents of my bag and that means more pictures.

LA Fresh Travel Lite Face Cleansing Wipes- It was nice to see these in my Glam Bag. I had never heard of this company or product before so I was game to try it out. As the packaging suggests it is oil-free. The wipes had clean scent that was not overpowering like some makeup remover wipes I have tried in the past. My face felt pretty smooth after, but when I accidentally wiped my lips there was a slight burning sensation. Would I purchase them again? Probably not. I have a cleanser that I have been using for a few years now and love. If I'm traveling I'll pack it with me. If I forgot my cleanser and had to go the store where I saw this product, then maybe that would be the only time I'd purchase it.

Hang Ten Classic Sport SPF50- When trying out new sunscreen I'm hesitant. My skin is sensitive and I go back to the summer when my aunt slathered on Banana Boat sunscreen while we spent a day at the pool and my skin just burned! Not from the sun, but from the sunscreen. Hang Ten was gentle and I did not have a reaction. It feels light upon application unlike some sunscreens that feel heavy when you're trying to rub them on. It was also not greasy. This would be great for wearing under makeup.I did not know this product existed, but now that I know I may try out a full sized spray version if I can find it at my local stores. Neutrogena is my sunscreen of choice. The price seemed reasonable for the spray version.

Pacifica Mineral Eyeshadow Duo- I love eyeshadow. There are so many pretty colors out there. This Pacifia color is no exception. I received Duo #2 which is called Moonbeam & Unicorn (my inner Disney is going, "Oooh, so magical."). I am all for mineral makeup so I was excited to see this in my Glam Bag. The colors have a shimmer effect and very pigmented, you just have to make sure you don't put it on too lightly. A little pressure is needed, but don't hurt your eyeballs! I liked it.

Olive Natural Beauty The Olive Lip Balm- Finally, we made it to the first of my favorite products from this month's Glam Bag. Once again, never heard of this company before (see a pattern?). I have a basket in my bedroom that as a collection of lip balms that I forget about and then remember I bought them when I clean out my purses every couple of months. I will never forget that I have this lip balm in my purse. It's awesome! I'm trying to invest in more natural products where I can. This is one product I can commit to. I love the rosemary scent and flavor of this lip balm. Once applied my lips have instant relief. They get dried out in the summer months, which in FL is NOW. It is also a reasonable price at $5.95 for a tube according the company's website. That works for me because I don't go through lip balm quickly. This product will always be in my purse.

Pur-Lisse Pur-Moist Hydra Balance Moisturizer - What a gem this Glam Bag goodie turned out to be! I LOVE this product. I've been on the search for a great moisturizer and settled on Olay (which I like), but this blows it out the water for me. After a shower I look forward to applying this following my cleanser. I feel like I'm at a fancy spa. It's gentle, smells great (very fresh and light), non-greasy, and just glides on. There wasn't a sign of a reaction after the first use. I love how my skins feels after I apply. My only disappointment is the price that the full sized product costs. When I checked out their website a tube of this awesome moisturizer is $55. I just can't budget for that. This product will have to go on my Christmas, Anniversary or Birthday list when my hubs asks me what I want. Until then, it's Olay for me. If you can afford this awesome moisturizer go for it! You won't regret it.

Whew, that was a lot of reviewing, but I was happy to. And by the way, in no way do I get anything for reviewing these. I happen upon a lot of great products and ideas through reading blogs which I think is neat. If I can even help one person like me, who wants to have a clue about beauty products but doesn't know where to begin, then I did good!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Recipe Raves

"You are becoming quite the cook!" I would have never thought I'd hear my husband speak those words. Ever since I've joined Annie's Buying Club I have had to meal plan. With certain things I tend to be a procrastinator (i.e. laundry, dishes, cooking), but knowing I have fresh produce in the fridge that must be addressed has helped me become a better "chef". Every other Sunday I plan breakfast and dinner for the next two weeks, with the lunch being left overs from dinner. I make a menu from a template I created (it was super simple- a two column table with 7 rows to plan out each week in a word document) and then print out the recipes I decided on. My ultimate goal is to put the recipes in plastic sleeves so I can store them in a recipe binder that I jazz up with a pretty cover. I love binders- one of my quirks.

With a few successful recipes under my belt I thought I'd share my favorite recipes that I've made each week. Everything I have chosen is simple to make because most nights I'm trying to cook with the Baby Monster crawling around the house and wanting constant attention. A common question that is asked on one of my mom forums is, "What is something that I can make this healthy and easy?" Well here are some recipes to help answer that question.

This week's share of food provided me with a lot of kale and collard greens. I've never tried kale and I haven't been too fond of collard greens so I had to find recipes to make them some of the most delicious foods on the planet because I knew I was going to be eating them forever (okay only two weeks).

On Monday I made collard green enchiladas. I'm proud of how these babies came out. Look at how yummy and tidy they look with their enchilada sauce and cheese topping.
This dish lasted us about 4 or 5 days. I can't remember because I know the hubs sneaked in two enchiladas at once so I can safely say he enjoyed them. The recipe can make 9-12 enchiladas. I made 10. This meal was also served with some pork. You can get the recipe here.

This next recipe was my favorite from this past week. It's a Summer Garden Crustless Quiche. I wanted a delicious recipe that called for kale and this was it.

 This recipe called for carrots and zucchini, but I didn't have carrots and I reserved the zucchini for another favorite recipe. To make up for it I added some peppers and onions instead along with a two strips of chopped turkey bacon. I couldn't wait for breakfast because I knew this savory creation was waiting for me. The hubs also ate more than his fair share...again. It's his way of complimenting my cooking I suppose. Try this quiche out by checking the recipe here.

We eat a lot of broccoli in my house. I like it steamed with a little bit of salt and pepper or with a cheese sauce. I never would have thought to roast it. Why did I wait so long to roast broccoli? It is AMAZING. This was the side dish that made my husband say, "Wow, you're becoming quite the cook." The broccoli gets a little bit of a crunch to it, it seems extra light and air, and the best part is that it brings out just a tiny bit of sweetness that I would not have expected to come from broccoli. I didn't take a picture of it because it was gobbled up right away. Take a look for yourself and definitely try out oven roasted broccoli by clicking here.

Now go out, get the ingredients and enjoy the deliciousness! I'm going to be busy cooking another quiche for breakfast this week.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Review

   My first Mother's Day is in the books. I think I can safely say that it was more of a Mother's Day Weekend and it was a sweet weekend at that. My Baby Monster experienced quite a few firsts. He said "mama" for the first time. Since he started making adorable cooing noises I have waited for mama. What has me mostly excited is to hear what his voice will sound like. He's such a happy sweet baby boy that I can only imagine his voice will be just as happy and sweet sounding. Hearing him call out mama when he's upset, happy, or playing has made my heart sing. Saturday is when I really heard him use mama for a purpose. The moment it came out of his mouth I swooped down and picked him up to snuggle. He said it one more time and I looked at the hubs for confirmation. My face turned just an inch away from him when Baby Monster said, "Mama!", grabbed my face with both hands and  planted a big mushy, wet baby kiss on my cheek. Best. Moment. Ever.
   The Baby Monster must be an over achiever because saying mama was not enough. He's been wanting to stand since he was born. He practically leaped out of my arms on day two. Lately he's been standing well but has been hesitant to let go of my hands, my hubs hands or the whatever he's using as support. On Saturday he was holding on to my pinky for dear life when he gaves me a mischievous little grin. Can you guess what happens next? The little guy let go of my pinky and stood for about ten seconds on his own until he plopped down on his bottom because I was hollering and squealing like a crazy lady. As a working mom who is away from my son five days a week for about seven hours a day I know that I will miss many firsts; so to have been home when he first tried to stand on his own was such a gift.
   All of this was just Saturday. Mother's Day actually arrived and it left me alone with the Baby Monster.  The hubs had to work (thankfully it was an early morning shift).For just a moment I threw a pity party. I really wanted my hubs home with me to celebrate my first Mother's Day. Then I stopped feeling sorry for myself because it dawned on me that I was given a wonderful gift. I had my son all to myself and we were going to have a great day! I just needed to make sure I had sleep first.
    The Baby Monster needs to learn that on holidays people enjoy sleeping in. He hasn't gotten that memo yet and has woken up early on every single special occasion. I was gifted with a 4 a.m. wake-up call. Happy Mother's Day, mom! I was okay with it because he gave me many opportunities for a nap.
   We then spent the day with my amazing, strong and stubborn mother. I love that woman with all of my heart. The day she leaves this earth will be one of great sadness for she is a force of nature. Everyday I get to talk to her is a gift, and even more so because she has had to fight to live everyday for the past 6 years with every medical extreme you could throw at her. The hubs came over to visit when he got off of work and after a long visit we went home...and then back again for Mother's Day cheesecake. Yum!
   My Mother's Day didn't leave me showered with physical gifts, but I could feel every blessing that makes being a mother one of the best jobs I have ever had. I'm looking forward to many more.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Errand Champion

  I have a cousin named Aarron. My 8-year-old self thought he was a pretty cool dude and enjoyed going over to my aunt's house so I could play with him and his other brothers and sisters. Six kids and at the time, ages ranging probably four to 12 years old, all got together to play. Oh my, did we get ourselves into a lot of trouble! I promise there's a point to this. My mom would check off a lot of things on her to-do list on the weekend, which I am finding is prime to-do list checking time, and naturally I'd always ask her what she was doing. She would say, "I'm running errands." This answer would leave me slightly confused because all I heard was Aarron instead of errands. I tried to figure out why she was running my cousin, but it seemed like fun so I wanted to go along with her. Finally after whining that I wanted to go with her she explained that she was not spending time with my cousin, but getting chores taken care of. That didn't sound like fun.

  Years later and errands still stink! I wish it meant that I was visiting with a person I liked spending time with. Today's errands went well though. The hubs had his first Saturday in forever off so I was able to get a lot of things accomplished before 3 p.m. I slept in, played with the Baby Monster and meal planned for the next week because our veggie share is in on Monday. Then I made a grocery list. Once the hubs woke up from his early morning nap I was the gift card queen and bought a new 20 oz Tervis Tumbler water bottle so I'd be more inspired to drink all of my water. I also got the hubs a new Tervis for his coffee. We then zipped over to Chic-Fil-A (YUM!) and took that to go to the book store. The bookstore was a major score because they had a ton of baby books on sale so the Baby Monster got six new books. I dropped the hubs and the baby off at home and I was on my to go grocery shopping. I went to two, count them, TWO stores in order to get amazing deals.

   My errand running rocked! This means I get to enjoy my Mother's Day chore free. Getting things checked off my to-list makes life feel great. Since my Saturday has been awesome I am going to send good vibes out to the world and hope that everyone else has an enjoyable Saturday as well! Have fun.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Get Your Tennis Shoes!

   There are moments in my life that I will look back on from time to time where I can remember my exact emotions, feelings and actions. My 10th birthday is one of those times. I can remember opening my last present thinking that I was a lucky girl to have family that loved me enough to celebrate my birthday and give me awesome gifts. When I finally brushed aside the torn wrapping paper to look inside the package I saw a strip of paper with the words, "Look in the back" printed on them. I looked up at my aunt with confusion and excitement because this particular aunt was always up to something. She lead me outside to the back of her vehicle then popped the door open to reveal a brand new pink bike. I jumped. I shrieked. I yelled. That 10th birthday will always be on my list of good moments to look back on.
   There are other important moments that are on my list as well. The moment when I found out my grandfather passed away, forcing me to face death for the first time in my young life. Or the time when I went to the San Fransisco Music Box Company with my aunt to pick out a special gift for my mom because she had just given birth to my baby brother. Instead of finding mom the perfect gift I fixated on a music box that featured Clara and her nutcracker. I can remember just staring at it thinking of the ways I could convince my aunt that this was the gift for my mom because I had to have it. She wound up getting it for me. I still have it. All these moments are mixed with the good and the bad.

  Thursday morning I was able to collect another important moment that will go on my list. I'm a teacher who works in a state where tenure is no longer a thing for new teachers. I began my teaching career last year and that turned out to be rough time for my district. Sadly at the end of the school year instead of packing up my classroom to put it away for the summer months I had to pack it up and move it out into storage because I was let go. After a miserable summer I got a call that there was a position available at my old school. I applied, interviewed and was offered the position of third grade teacher.

    I worked very hard this year to grow and develop my craft. As the school year started drawing closer the end the nerves started eating at me. I didn't want to relive those miserable weeks that I had endured last year. I kept wondering if I be let go again. I questioned if all of my hard worked paid off.  I love teaching so my heart would have broken again if something were to happen and I wouldn't be able to come back to my school next year. With only five weeks left that meant I would find out if I was going to come back very soon.

  On Thursday my AP told me "Get your tennis shoes, you're going to kindergarten." That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to teach kindergarten! Getting official word that not only was coming back, but that I get to teach a grade level I've been wanting to teach since my second internship was one of the best moments ever. My face has had a smile plastered on it since Thursday and I don't think it's going anywhere. Next year cannot come soon enough (Until the end of summer break actually arrives and then I'll wish I had more time with the Baby Monster. Oh life, how fickle you are).

   While I enjoyed my time as second grade and third grade teacher, I know I'm made for kindergarten. I fell in love with it during my second internship. For that internship I taught half a semester in second grade which I really liked. The thought of leaving it for kindergarten kind of scared me because I liked the independence of the second graders and the curriculum. So when I switched second grade for kindergarten I was a bit apprehensive. It only took me about ten minutes of me being in there to fall in love with everything. My mentor teacher was awesome, the students were great and I couldn't believe what they were capable of accomplishing at such a young age. I was simply amazed.

   The second half of the semester flew by because I was enjoying my time teaching so much. When it was time to request my grade level for my final internship I made sure kindergarten was the top of my list. Later in the summer the letter arrived to inform me that I would indeed be placed in a kindergarten classroom for my final internship. I was ecstatic. My experience in my new classroom only confirmed what I knew to be true- I was made to teach kindergarten. I had hoped to get a position in that grade level my first year teaching, but I was offered second grade and I was pretty happy about that. I was chosen out of 200 applicants for that position so I was honored. Plus, I do like second grade! This is why I love teaching. There is something about every grade level that I truly enjoy. Kindergarten just has that special something.

  It has taken me three tries, but finally I get to teach kindergarten again. I cannot wait to work with the wonderful ladies on my team. I worked with them before during my final internship and when I took a long-term substitute job. My Pinterest account is flooded with kindergarten goodness. I'll have to make sure I pin some great looking tennis shoes! I'll need more than the one pair I have. I'm ready!



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Painting Like A Pro

   Well, shucks, it's been 7 days, an entire WEEK since I've checked in. It has taken forever to get this post up. My excuses are valid. The baby monster has been sick for the past week with a cold so he's been needing extra love and care. I'm also going to be honest- my laptop died and I never keep in plugged in so I've been lazy and have let it sit on my table for the past 5 days. It's getting to be a hassle every time I plug something in that has a cord longer than an inch. Apartment living with an active 8 month old who enjoys chewing wires is not all the fun it games it seems to be. It's much easier to let the laptop battery die then let the Wire Detector find it.

   My laptop's charged now so I can post this!

Lovely painting, no? I created that. Well, actually copied what an instructor did, but this version is all mine! I celebrated my belated birthday with my friends at this awesome place called Painting With A Twist. If you have one in your area I highly recommend it. So what you do is sign up for an artwork you would like to paint. You pay to reserve a seat for a class. The "twist" part is that you can bring any beverage and snack that you like with you. And when I say beverage, I mean your favorite adult beverage. It's fairly inexpensive. I booked a private party because I knew I wanted to celebrate my birthday with a group of friends. It did not cost me extra to book a party. We all still paid $35 for a two hour session. Everyone had a blast. After we left that night I got a lot of texts and calls from my friends who thanked me for a great night. All of them said they had fun. My one friend is scheduling a private party for June because she enjoyed the class so much. Check out this link to see if you can find a studio near you. It was a good time.

Look at that smile! That's the sign of a fun night out. 

  My fancy art work will be displayed just as soon as the hubs gets to it. I'm banned from ever hanging anything on our walls because I'm terrible at making things level. Everything always has a tilt to it. I'm proud of my painting, even if my glass jar isn't leveled. It reminds me of a summer night in New Jersey catching lightning bugs during a balmy summer evening. Everyone down here in Florida calls them fireflies, just in case you were wondering what I was talking about. I usually get confused looks when I mention lightning bugs.

Well that's all I have for now. I got some really exciting news today at work, but that's for a post all it's own.