Growing, Changing, Improving

Lifestyle

Something that has been a huge relief to me in my professional life is the realization that humans always have the ability to improve and grow. It’s like we never truly have a limit to improvement. At first, I didn’t realize this, and I quickly grew overwhelmed with my job.

I am a high school English teacher. When I first started in the field I thought that meant I would be teaching students to love reading and writing. It turns out that would be way too easy. My first year of teaching I quickly found more and more responsibilities being thrown on me. You have a kid who sucks at organization? Well, guess what, now you’re in charge of keeping his materials for him! That’s right, now you don’t only need to keep your things organized but also multiple students who can’t stay organized for themselves.

That’s just one example. And maybe that doesn’t sound too difficult, but I have around 150 students per day. I already have a lot to organize and keep track of. At one point in my career, it seemed almost impossible to think I’d also be able to manage personally keeping track of a bunch of kids’ work and materials for them. Now, somehow, I do it easily without even thinking about it. Currently, I’m in my fourth year of teaching, and it seems every year there are new things that I think, “There’s no way I can do this. It’s just too much.” But by the start of the next school year, I’m always seamlessly doing those very things that the year before I thought were impossible to master.

Part of me finds this reality comforting. To know I can always get better, that somehow there is always more capacity in my brain and body to take on more. It helps me from getting completely overwhelmed and shutting down. But I do think there is a dark side to this great human ability as well.

See, I am not the only person who realizes this cool ability that humans have. My boss realizes it, and so does my boss’s boss. And a lot of other people in positions of power too. My boss is a nice guy, but he also has a boss (and his boss is probably a nice guy too, but I don’t know for sure because I don’t know him), and bosses have a lot of pressure on them, just as much as us people lower on the totem pole do. That pressure all comes because the thing about most jobs and careers and our society in general is the push to be efficient as possible. To get the most out of what we have. And sometimes, wrongly, the people in charge start viewing the people below them as things. We become reduced down to an object; we are resources to be used and drained. At least this is how it feels in education.

Most days I feel tired. I feel like my bones are tired, like my soul is tired. I go home most nights with nothing left to give, but that doesn’t work because my job doesn’t stop when I walk out the doors of the school building. I still have parents to contact, emails to respond to, papers to grade, classes to prepare for, and more. The 90 minutes I get to do these things in a school day are never enough.

Plus, I have a family; I have a husband and two dogs, and I think it’s wrong to go home everyday with nothing left to give to them. They are my whole heart. They deserve the most, and yet so often they get the least.

I’ve been trying to find ways to energize myself, so I don’t keep going home with nothing left. I know that there are no quick fixes, and I know that eventually something big will have to change, but for now it’s about maintaining and sustaining myself.

One small way I’ve been doing this is through taking pictures of all the small things that bring me joy throughout my week. I did not come up with this. I started doing it after someone I follow on Instagram shared the idea (I don’t remember who. If I did I would share the handle).

So today I leave you with these: Some of the things that have brought me happiness in these last few weeks.

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Breakfast food is definitely a love language of mine. I’ve been making this cinnamon roll coffee cake recipe for the last couple weeks and it’s the best part of every morning. It’s been an easy enough way to show myself some love.

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This blurry, sunny picture of Eric and Tallulah. These two have been there for me so much in these last two and a half years I can’t even begin to tell you it all in this small caption. They will forever be my heart.

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We got Clementine in part just because we wanted another dog, but we also got her because we wanted a friend for Tallulah. I also secretly (or not so secretly) wanted a dog who would cuddle endlessly with me. Tallulah likes her personal space and I can appreciate that. To my pleasant surprise Clementine loves to cuddle, and I’m actually her preferred cuddle buddy. Every day she curls up on my lap like this, I am just filled with radiating beams of contentment.

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This one worked in a couple of different ways. 1. Self-care in the form of giving myself time to do something as simple as use a skin mask, and 2. Try a new beauty product, which I love to do. This was so fun, and I enjoyed it so much. Sometimes it makes me wonder why I don’t make time for me to do it more often.

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And finally, my garden. It took forever to see anything bloom in my garden this year. The weather was not what the plants needed, and I saw so much of my hard work from the spring go to waste. It was discouraging to say the least. But this is the silver lining! See, I still have flowers in October! And even better, this past week, those flowers were covered in butterflies, because (get this!!!) it’s butterfly migration season. My time in my backyard has been extra beautiful lately.

Okay, that’s all I have for now, but let me tell you this simple trick works. Taking these photos and looking back on them really does remind me of all the wonderful things I’m constantly surrounded by and that in itself helps to re-energize me.

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Chrissy Teigen Changed The Way I Think About Cooking

Home, Lifestyle

I grew up in a big family, and it definitely influenced the way I view food and cooking. If you grew up in a big family too, you probably know what I’m talking about. Cooking often felt like a chore. After a busy day at work, and then out on the farm, my family would come crashing into the house hungry, and my mom made a homemade meal almost every night. Even writing that sentence exhausts me.

There were definitely times where I was asked to help out and make supper for my mom. And honestly, it wasn’t something I enjoyed. It was tiring and just another thing on a long list of things to do. I can’t even imagine how my mom felt.

Now as an adult living on my own, I always have to cook for myself. For awhile, I found myself dreading cooking constantly. Then, I realized that this was an unhealthy way to look at something I would have to do for the rest of my life and so I sought out ways to make the experience of cooking more enjoyable for myself.

One of the first ways I did that was buying Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, Cravings. I love Chrissy so I knew buying her cookbook was a no-brainer. And actually it surprised me by make me fall more deeply in love with cooking than I even knew possible. Part of it was reading how Chrissy felt about cooking. She talked about it being an enjoyable activity. At first I laughed and brushed it off, thinking, “Of course, we can’t relate – she’s a model.” But I knew that models were real people too with busy lives full of important obligations. So I dug deeper.

As I made my way through Chrissy’s cookbook, I tried emulating her – not rushing the process or getting frustrated by passing time. Instead, I enjoyed what I was doing and I committed myself to the meal I was preparing. And guys, it worked. I actually started cooking more. It goes without saying, that all the meals in the cookbook were stunning as well. So much so, that I bought Chrissy’s second cookbook when it came out, and I’m equally obsessed with that one.

Maybe what I appreciate the most about Chrissy’s cookbooks and words on cooking is this: she gave me a love for the cooking experiences I had growing up. Honestly, my mom is one of my favorite people on earth. She has done so much for me and she is a crazy hard worker. Many of our experiences together have involved cooking, and now I’m so glad I get to treasure all of those even more deeply since I have a new fondness of cooking. Now, I don’t just get to look back on cooking as times spent with my mom, which is still meaningful, but I get to take it a step further and appreciate the cooking that my mom taught me so much through. It gives me a deeper appreciation and understanding of our relationship.

So in celebration of Chrissy Teigen, her cooking, and my new appreciation for all that cooking brings, I’m going to show you my go-to Cravings recipe:

Chrissy Teigen’s Mexican Street Corn

3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ears of corn, husked and halved

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Cayenne pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 lime, cut into 8 wedge

Directions:

  1. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. On a plate, combine the Parm, cotija and black pepper.
  2. Use a brush to coat the pieces of corn with oil, or get them greasy with your hands. Season with the salt and lay as many pieces as will fit comfortably in the skillet. Cook, turning every 2 minutes, until some bits are blackened and the corn is cooked, about 8 minutes total.
  3. Working quickly, brush each piece with a thin layer of mayonnaise, then roll the corn in the cheese mixture and sprinkle with cayenne to taste. Put all the cheesy corn on a platter, garnish with the cilantro, and serve with lime wedges for squeezing.

 

That’s it! It’s so simple and so good. I’m honestly obsessed with it, and everyone I’ve ever made it for immediately wants the recipe. Then they make it all the time too. This includes my parents who love sweet corn in its simplest form. But they like this even better! It’s the best. Honestly. And so is basically every other recipe in the cookbook. It’s by far the best cookbook purchase I’ve ever made.

Ok, so I think you get it now. I love Chrissy Teigen. I love her cookbook. I love my mom. And because of all these things, I’ve learned to love cooking.

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We’re Jumping Into March Around Here

Beauty, Home, Lifestyle

Wow, sorry I ducked out for a few months there. I was really embracing the whole “new year, new me” thing. But it’s not so much about being new – it’s more about being the truest version of myself. And wow, that’s difficult, because guess what? I’m kind of a people pleaser. I really didn’t realize that about myself until recently, because I’m not someone who spends a lot of time worrying about what others think of me.

It wasn’t until I took the Enneagram quiz and found out I was a type 3 with a 2 wing. When I read up about my “type” nothing was shocking (In fact, I felt very grounded in everything I read like, “Oh yeah, that’s definitely me,” but what really stuck with me was the part that said in type 3s’ eyes, sometimes achieving (type 3s are often competitive and value being successful and achieving things) means succeeding at whatever their loved ones’ deem valuable, not what we deem valuable. And honestly, I think that’s been me for most of my life.

The great thing though, is that I do know a lot of things that I love, and now I’m just being sure to more actively pursue those things. I’m lucky that I have a lot of love and support in my life so it’s actually pretty exciting going forward. For instance, I love writing, and I’m going to keep doing just that right here. The crazy thing is that for the last few months I’ve been taking tons of pictures of everything around me for all these blog posts I was mentally planning. They just never made it out of my phone and head and onto an an electronic piece of paper (aka this post). I’m finally getting there so hang in there with me while I get myself caught up, and then let’s hope I can commit to some regularity going forward in 2019!

Another thing I’ve been exploring more? My love of flowers. About a year and a half ago, I started an instagram account for my love of flowers @rosemaryandribbon. I attended a few floral workshops and over the summer I used flowers from my own garden to practice even more. In January, I had the opportunity to have my floral designs in a couple of styled shoots.

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I made that bouquet. Ugh, it’s so pretty, it still gets to me. I’m willing to make flowers for you too! Just reach out to me via dm (on Instagram) or email (via my website). I’m really proud of my progress and I’m extra excited for my garden this summer (also, can’t wait for the spring weather to get here).

Also, I’m still working on my hydration. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve probably heard me reference how I’m noticeably bad at staying hydrated while at work – to the point where a student commented on it. Well, for Christmas, Eric got me the water bottle of my dreams.

This is my bkr water bottle and I love it (it comes in a variety of sizes, colors, and textures!). It’s what my dream water bottle looks like. It’s glass, which means no weird plastic or metal taste in the water, and I can attach my lip balm on top, which if you know me, you know I have a penchant for skin care. In fact, I actually fell in love with bkr’s lip balm before I even knew they made water bottles.

See, Eric is perfect and in being perfect knows how to give me perfect gifts. For my birthday last year he got me a subscription to Allure’s beauty box (I’ve tried other similar boxes in the past and so far this has been my favorite). One month, bkr lip balm was included as a sample and it got me hooked. So when I used my sample gone, I went online to look for more, and that’s when I discovered that bkr makes water bottles and they can hold the lip balm bkr makes. When I showed Eric in excitement, he downplayed it and sneakily purchased it as a Christmas gift. And the best part is that it has helped me be better about keeping hydrated (both my body and my skin!).

Now students don’t comment on how little water I drink! Instead they comment on how cool my water bottle is!

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December’s Beauty Round Up

Beauty, Lifestyle

December is a busy month for pretty much everyone. In between shopping for presents and staying on top of work, you have to squeeze in the holiday parties, cookie making, card sending (My family card picture is below), and more.

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It’s easy to let our self-care fall aside during this time, and while this can manifest itself in many ways, for me, it usually looks like letting the little things fall to the side. I suddenly forget to take my vitamins, and it’s harder to wash my face at night, when I’m already tired because it’s dark at 6pm. What drives me crazy is that I know better. I know taking care of myself is even more important in the winter months, even when it comes to your skin. So this December, while I concentrated on drinking water and remembering to take my vitamins, I also focused my efforts on pampering my skin, keeping it healthy and hydrated.

If there’s one thing I need to learn more about (there are a lot of things) it’s oils. But this December I got the chance to try one when I received an order full of family Christmas gifts from Sephora. With the order, I received a Youth to the People Maqui and Açaí Prickly Pear Gigi Superberry Hydrate and Glow Oil sample. Youth to the People’s website claims that the oil’s ingredients help fight free radicals, revive dull skin, hydrate, and soften lines.

I tried it and I did end up loving it. It did make my skin feel more hydrated than usual, and every time I use it I definitely notice my skin looking a little brighter immediately after application. Will I buy it once my sample runs out? Maybe, but I’ll probably want to try some other brightening oils first to see which one I like best (this one will be some pretty tough competition).

My brightening run didn’t end with oil. I also used a brightening face mask in December.

I got the Lapcos Pearl mask from my Allure Beauty Box during its partnership with Anthropologie. Lapcos, a Korean beauty brand, has many different sheet masks in its metallic collection. The Pearl mask is said to brighten skin and revitalize dark spots. Once again, I did see immediately changes after using the mask, and I love when my face glows so I was pretty happy with this mask. Also, Korean beauty is really big right now so it was fun to get to try the brand.

Finally, my last product to round out this roundup is the Patchology FlashPatch Eye Gels.

My eyes are the bane of my skincare routine. For some reason, I didn’t start using masks specifically for my eyes until about a year ago. Now I’m eager to experiment with any eye mask I can get my hands on. This one did not disappoint. I’m obsessed. This is a product I’m planning on purchasing in the near future. It felt so nice on my eyes, calming and cooling. Also, I love how the little mask gels are a bit sparkly (not the gel that gets on you, just the mask). These eye gels are supposed to revitalize eyes hours after they are removed. They have caffeine to get rid of puffiness and the rest of the ingredients help moisturize the eye area, encourage collagen production, and brighten the eye area. All-in-all, I love them. You might even be able to call them my current obsession.

Ok, well that’s my current beauty round up for December, the products that are keeping me refreshed and moisturized. Do you have any winter go-to’s? If so, let me know! I’m always looking for new products to try.

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Let’s talk about skin safety (because yes it matters in winter too)

Beauty, Lifestyle

I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to visit my sister this Thanksgiving. I’m lucky that I got the chance while she is living in the Caribbean. Yes, I escaped the cold of the Midwest for a whole week, and don’t worry, I have plenty of cute vacation photos to show you. If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen enough already, but thank you for persisting.

 

While I was visiting my sister, I had a lot more exposure to the sun than I did back at home in the Midwest. In fact it was more sun than what I had been getting in months, and while I was very happy about it, I really had to be careful with my skin. My husband and I doused ourselves in drugstore sunscreen daily, using brands that I had grown up using and trusted. I don’t know if it was my skin’s inability to adapt to the quick increase in SPF, some failure on my part to apply correctly, or something different altogether, but this sunscreen wasn’t cutting it, and I was frustrated.

My sister pointed me toward the pharmacy, where her friend had found European brands. Years of obsessively protecting my skin had taught me that European brands contain ingredients that haven’t been approved in the US but are great at protecting us from UV rays. I was elated at this news from my sister and I ended up basically running down to the pharmacy to get my hands on those better ingredients.

Sure enough, the brand I purchased, Vichy (you can also get it in the US, but it won’t have those good ingredients), worked perfectly, absorbing quickly into my skin, smelling pleasantly, and most importantly, keeping my safe from the sun. After my new sunscreen purchase, the rest of our trip went smoothly, and honestly, I was excited to get to spend time with my sister.

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But why does this matter now? Because you should wear sunscreen year round, and not enough people realize this (yes, people who live in the Midwest with me, you need sunscreen year round). I am now a passionate believer in the importance of sunscreen, but I didn’t always feel this way.

If I’m being honest (and I am!), I hated sunscreen growing up. I disliked the smell, I disliked the oily feel, and I disliked the inconvenience of constantly needing to reapply. Obviously this is a toxic combination for this blonde-haired, freckled lady (especially since I basically spent my entire childhood outdoors playing softball).

Eventually, as I got older, I mostly got over my dislike of the smell and the oiliness. I think at some point my vanity (goodbye unnecessary wrinkles) outweighed my dislike of those things, and I sucked it up and started wearing sunscreen regularly. I’ll tell my mom it’s because I matured, but really it’s because I didn’t want to badly sun damage my body because I care too much about how I look. But who’s to say? Maybe that is it’s own kind of maturity.

Around the same time that I got over my repulsion toward sunscreen, I found out that really I should be wearing it every day. Young adult Anna couldn’t understand how to regularly wear sunscreen and reapply it with her makeup, and even though I probably only wore makeup about once a week, I used that as my excuse as to why I couldn’t wear it all the time. Then, I started buying the foundation that had SPF in it and I acted like that was sufficient, even though I knew that SPF needed reapplied regularly and I had read many articles explaining that the SPF found in makeup usually doesn’t cover what you need anyway.

Sometime during my college years, I finally held myself accountable and thought about why I was refusing to wear sunscreen like I knew I should be, and I realized it was because my skin usually reacted terribly with the normal drugstore brands that I used every summer on the softball diamonds. I knew there was no way that was what all the beauty experts were using on their faces, and I knew my reasoning for not wearing sunscreen was logical, but there was also a logical solution. At this point, I began my research. It didn’t take long for me to discover that sunscreens existed that didn’t smell terrible or leave your skin oily and gross feeling. In fact, there were sunscreens that were formulated just for your face and even meant to be reapplied over your makeup.

Let me tell you, this was a game changer for me. I used a gift card to a beauty store and I purchased my first for-face sunscreen. It was pricey, but I soon found out it was worth it. I now own multiple bottles of beauty expert approved sunscreen and I love them and I wear them year round just like all those beauty articles I read so long ago told me too.

Don’t worry, though, I still have work to do. I’m still working on my reapplying game, and if that’s something you’ve mastered, please tell me your secrets!

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Fall Things

Lifestyle

I love summer and I’m always sad to see it go, but when fall arrives, I’m reminded just how much of a fall person I am. It’s like I finally come alive again. Whenever October rolls around, I’m reminded of the Anne of Green Gables quote: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” And it’s true. It’s a month where you can truly feel the earth change, and we’re caught in this limbo between the growing season and the season of rest. We get pumpkins and apples and sweaters and jackets and booties. And we get moody lighting.

Things that are less fun about the coming season: coldness, allergies, colds and other illnesses, loss of sunlight, and dry skin. But we’re not going to focus on those things – unless we’re focusing on them to solely combat them.

So what am I looking forward to this coming season? Well, cooking out of Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook Cravings 2. My husband got it for me as a sweet surprise gift, and I haven’t had time to cook out of it yet, but I have already poured over every page. Simply put, I’m dying to delve in.

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Also, her new Target collection of cookware? I can’t wait to acquire some it. Chrissy’s color scheme already fits the colors of my kitchen and my aesthetic taste in general.

On another note, if you remember my ChloSoup blueberry pie earrings from earlier this year, you’ll want to know that I got a fall update. That’s right, I got myself a pair of pumpkin pie earrings from ChloSoup and they don’t disappoint. I’ve already worn them so much and I’ve received a ton of compliments.

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But, I mean, how could you not compliment them? They’re adorable. The creator of the brand has tons of adorable products and just released a Halloween line, along with some general fall and Thanksgiving products.

What am I on the lookout for? Eye products. Guys, my eyes are killing me they’re so puffy and wrinkly, and I’m glad I have big eyes, but I need to be able to smile without losing my eyes in pools of skin, which is what I feel like is happening now. I’m sure my allergies don’t help, and I’m sure hydrating will also help. But if you have any tips, tricks, or products that you love and recommend please let me know. I will be indebted to you forever if I can smile big again.

Finally, I want to leave you with something that I am extremely thankful for right now: dahlias. It’s getting cold and blustery, but guess what, my husband picked these pretty things out of my garden just the other day. I’m thankful for God creating things that grow in periods of cold and darkness, a reminder that we too can grow in difficult periods.

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Oh, and one final, final thing – Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are expecting a baby?! I’m so extremely excited and happy for them, and I just want Meghan to have a safe and joyful pregnancy. Congrats to those two love birds.

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The Time I Caught My Hair On Fire (Making Cards)

Home, Lifestyle

Wow, it’s already September. No, it’s already the end of September. I can’t believe how quickly this month has gone. Back in August, a Windows update crashed my computer. Eric and I took it to a professional to restore, but the guy couldn’t save any of my word files. I’m devastated to say the least. And no, I didn’t have them backed up. And yes, I’ve learned my lesson and will back things up from now on.

Regardless of what I’ve learned, this experience hurts. Years of writing have disappeared and this is a hard experience. What I’ve realized, though, is that life is full of hard experiences, and usually not not only does God allow me to learn through these experiences, but also He allows to find humor in them. I know it’ll be awhile until I can find something to laugh about through this experience, but until then, I’m going to share another experience that I learned to laugh about.

This story takes place in February of this year, just a handful of months ago. I decided that I really wanted to take the time to hand make and mail Galentine’s Day cards to all the ladies closest to me. Maintaining strong friendships in adulthood requires intentionality, and this is one thing I wanted to be thoughtful and intentional about.

February was also a rough month for me in general. I was fighting off a sinus infection that I had acquired in January, which had sent me to an urgent care one night and just wouldn’t seem to go away. I was also trying to find a balance between my personal life and my professional life (there are always more papers to grade). I felt like I never could get the things done that I most wanted to accomplish. This led to me staying up late one night, desperately trying to finish the cards in time to get them in the mail so they would arrive on Galentine’s Day.

My husband had fallen asleep on the couch. All of the cards were finished and dried. The envelopes were addressed and stamped. All I had left to do was to put the cards in the envelopes and seal them with a red wax stamp.

I practiced with the wax stamps before, but I was excited because this was the first time I had a real reason to use it. After finishing stuffing the cards into their rightful envelopes, I lit the wick in the wax. One at a time, I balanced the stick of wax over each envelope until a spattering of wax drops formed a nice circle. Then, I would press the stamp firmly into the hot wax, waiting a few moments for the wax to cool and take its shape as a seal.

The cards looked beautiful. I was proud of my effort and staying up late paid off. After I finished the last seal on the last card, I sat up and looked at my short wax stick. It was in my hand the whole time, but I only noticed now that the flame had overtaken the wick and had now started the actual wax on fire too.

Calmly, I attempted to gently blow out the flaming wax stick. But my gentle blow didn’t work and now a small panic was setting in. So I tried to keep it together and reasoned that I just needed to blow harder (I felt very much like the big bad wolf hunting down the three little pigs). This time, my attempt did in fact put out the fire on the wax stick, but it also sent little piles of flaming wax straight into my hair. I’m lucky that it was just the front band area of my hair. I’m lucky that the wax didn’t fly into our carpet or our curtains.

At this point,with my hair on fire, I needed to make a decision and make it quickly. First, I tried calling for my husband, but my panicked screams didn’t wake him. It’s probably good that he didn’t wake up. Can you imagine waking up to your significant other’s hair on fire?

Next, I thought about making a run for the kitchen or bathroom, where I could use a towel to pat out the fire or stick my head under the sink. However, I decided not to, afraid that moving would give the fire access to more oxygen, allowing it to grow bigger.

Now, as the smell of burnt hair filled the air, I only had one option left. I pulled sleeves of my sweatshirt down over my hands and started patting my head vigorously. Before long, I could no longer feel any heat. I got up and checked the damage in the mirror. I couldn’t tell where it had happened. My hair didn’t look any differently, but it did smell terribly. I washed my hair in the sink, managing to get most of the smell out.

Finally, I woke my husband. I told him what happened. His groggy eyes filled with shock. “Are you ok?” he asked. I was fine and I told him I was, but it was scary for a little while. The whole thing probably took seconds but it felt like half an hour. I apologized for the smell. Eric apologized for not waking up to my yells. No one was mad. We were both just glad that everyone was safe, it was over and we could both go to sleep.

That night it was scary, but even by the next morning I was starting to see the humor in the situation. Now, months later, I see it as pure comedy. I mean, I can literally picture Mindy Kaling doing the same thing in a movie scene. I’m thankful that I’ve been given the ability to find the humor in almost every situation, and now I’m just waiting to find it in the crashing of my computer.

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Summer Is Ending, But The Summer Feeling Doesn’t Have To

Beauty, Home, Lifestyle, Style

It’s officially August, which means that summer is sizzling to its end. For some people, that means heading back to school. For others, it means ending their vacations, or it possibly means sending their kids back to school. For me, it means returning to school as an educator.

Like everyone else with a career, my summers aren’t spent free of work. I’ve spent a lot of time working on licensure and professional development opportunities. Regardless of my work this summer, these next couple months usher me into a period of constant work, as I prepare and begin this coming school year. One thing that I’ve learned from being a teacher is that it can be really hard to balance your time (I have no clue how so many of my coworkers and friends with kids handle it). And I know, that as true as this is for me, it is also true for others, especially as we leave the summer and it’s time of adventuring and relaxation.

Through my time as a teacher, I’ve learned to deeply value intentional “me” time, as well as surrounding myself with things that help me relax or bring about intentional relaxing practices. If I’m honest, often when I’m busy and stressed, I’m not in the mindset to find something that will help me relax. Or sometimes my husband sees that I’m stressed and wants to help me relax. Because of this, I’ve developed an Amazon wishlist. It’s an easy go-to, and I’m not the only one who thinks having a wishlist on hand is a good idea.

Today, I’m going to share a few items off my wishlist that I think you might enjoy, that might help you relax as well.

1. Meaningful Artwork

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My sister made this cute little pot for me and it’s just the best thing! Sorry, there’s no link for this one! But I truly believe that art (and in this case pottery) can bring people so much joy. I love looking at and it’s lovely aesthetics. Blues are my favorite, and this one means even more because my sister made it.

2. Ban.do Work It Out Water Bottle

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I know I struggle to stay hydrated once I start working if I don’t actively carry a water bottle around with me. Real story: I had a few students last year who used to scold me for not drinking enough fluids. So I’m working on it, and the inspirational words will help me move forward in my goals (both about hydration and otherwise).

3. Cravings: Hungry For More, By Chrissy Tiegen

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So Chrissy’s latest cookbook isn’t out yet, and it won’t be until September, but I have this on my preorder list because I know it’s going to be great. I already love cooking all of the recipes from her first book, and I’m not the only one who loves them! All my friends and family, who I cook for, love them too. Chrissy is the person who taught me to enjoy cooking, to not let it stress me out, and instead take my time and find pleasure in the process. That reason alone has made me a lifetime supporter of her cookbooks.

4. Farmacy Natural Facemasks

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If you don’t know my love of skincare, then obviously you don’t know me and haven’t read much of my writing. Seriously, I’ve already blogged about how  important skincare is to me multiple times. But, I’m really eager to try this collection Farmacy facemasks. I love Farmacy as a brand. They use natural, clean ingredients, which is important to me. I also love that this selection includes soothing, brightening, and deep moisture (all things my skin will definitely need during the school year).

5. Be You Boxed Calendar

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I’ve always loved quotes, and I have always felt inspired by other people’s words. A calendar like this would is a great addition to a work desk, something to find words of wisdom in every day.

6. IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel

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I’m really bad about regularly styling my hair on a regular basis once I start my regular 7:30 to 3:30 hours. I got this hair product as a sample, and I instantly loved it. I have naturally wavy to curly hair patterns, and a great product like this can make the biggest difference when it comes to getting the most out of every minute in my morning.

 

So that’s it! If you want to check out my list, you can see the rest of it here. I hope that as your summer comes to an end, you find ways to milk every ounce of adventure and relaxation out of it, and even more, I hope that you can find a way to extend the spirit of summer throughout the rest of 2018!

 

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Things I Love

Beauty, Home, Lifestyle

Loyal readers, thank you for your patience. Eric and I have been undergoing some major life changes (hello, home ownership), and so blogging has taken a back seat to packing, and cleaning, and moving. Luckily, I need a break from unpacking and there’s nowhere I’d rather be than at my blog. Unfortunately for me, because I’ve been so busy, taking pictures to upload to my blog has also fallen to the wayside. I wish I was on top of things enough to remember to do everything, but I know that’s just not possible. I’m doing the best I can, and I’m happy with what I AM accomplishing.

This post is going to be in list format. It will most likely be short and sweet. I hope you’ll read it and you’ll love it, and it’ll be helpful to you. Because I feel like so much has happened in the time that I’ve been gone, I’m going to try to catch you up on my favorite recent home, beauty, health, etc. finds. Without further ado . . .

The Things I’ve Been Loving Recently:

Glossier Balm Dot Com – Birthday – $12

 

While Balm Dot Com comes in a wonderful assortment of flavors, the one I ordered is Birthday. It smells and tastes like cake, and it’s shimmery. I love it. There’s really no tint, just shimmer, so if you’re looking for something with some color this isn’t for you. Some reviews said that the glittery tube started rubbing off in people’s purses and bags, and I have found this to be the case, but it really doesn’t bother me. The inside of my bags aren’t as neat as they should be anyway, and I don’t buy beauty products mainly for their packaging so this still works for me. It’s definitely not a big enough downside to keep me from ordering it. Other people have found that the cost feels hefty for essentially a tube of Vaseline. I personally think the price is fair, but I also love Fresh’s $24 Lip Treatment, which makes Balm Dot Com significantly cheaper for me. I will say that I mostly use Balm Dot Com for moisturizing, but it isn’t great for outdoor summer use because it doesn’t have any SPF. Balm Dot Com is great at moisturizing my lips and I love that, but I need some SPF protection too!

Rachel Allene Candle Collab with Candelles

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I just checked Rachel’s shop and I don’t see any candles listed there currently, but if she does another collaboration in the future with Candelles, you can be sure I’ll be participating. I ordered one of her mystery boxes earlier this year, and I got a Be Mine Candle in my box when it arrived. It was in one of my favorite scents, Fig and Sugar (you can order a non-collab version of the scent in that link), and it’s cute as pie (even though you can’t get one of Rachel’s candles, you should totally check out her shop for lots of other cute things like this pin, this tank top, or this meal planner). I’ve been burning it constantly in the new house (because the previous home owners left it kind of dirty and smelly, but that’s another story for another day). The point is that this candle has brought pretty smells into my house and made me happy.

Binny’s Coconut Butter – Coffee Macaroon – $13.45

 

For year’s I’ve been making a conscience effort to be thoughtful and careful about what I put on my face and the rest of my body. I wrote about how I came to that point here. I am lucky to grow up in a family where my mom often made homemade dinners using home grown ingredients. I’m even luckier to get free, healthily grown beef (free of hormones and additives) as a Christmas present every year from my parents. But recently, I’ve found that I’m choosing convenience over health when it comes to what I put into my body. And I want to make sure I’m being thoughtful in regards to the meals that I prepare for my husband and I. That being said, my husband is already very against food groups like vegetables but insists he’ll eat anything as long as it tastes good. So one of my first “healthy” purchases was Binny’s Coconut Butter in the Coffee Macaroon flavor. It’s delicious. I love the texture and the taste. It’s filling, and I love the simple ingredients that are in it. It makes me feel so much better about putting it in my body! I’m eager to try the brand’s other flavors too!

Ban.do Sunblock Phone Case – $32

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I’ve needed a new phone case for awhile, and I’ve been obsessed with Ban.do for awhile, so buying a phone case from them seemed like a natural and easy fit. Especially when I found out that they have a sunblock phone case. Guys, I’m a believer in sunscreen. You can hardly get through any conversations with me regarding the outdoors or summer without me mentioning it. This phone case allows me to live my truth. But, if sunblock isn’t your thing, they also have lots of other cute styles including coffee cups, cassette tapes, and floral cases.

Bamboo Toothbrushes – GoWoo – $12.89

 

Along with trying to cover and fill myself with healthy things, I’ve also spent the last couple years trying to make changes to help the environment. I believe that I am a steward of the earth, and I know that I have not been doing enough of my part. One simple and small change I can make is switching over to bamboo toothbrushes. Our normal, plastic toothbrushes never disappear. Every toothbrush I’ve ever used is sitting in a landfill somewhere, and that makes me incredibly sad. One of the biggest problems I’ve faced in being more environmentally conscious is the high prices that come with buying things that are good for the earth. That’s not the case with bamboo toothbrushes. They are biodegradable and they are affordable. The link above is for a four pack. Isn’t that exciting?! There’s lot’s of brands out there, but this was a quick and affordable option for me. I’m also looking into switching to stasher bags. If you have any other affordable earth-friendly switches for me, please let me know!

 

Alright, y’all, that’s all I have for now. If you have things that you’ve been loving, please let me know, because I’d love to hear from you. If you try out any of the things that I wrote about above, let me know what you think!

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Joanna Gaines’s Lemon Bars

Home, Lifestyle

One of my favorite desserts of all time is Lemon Bars. I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember, but they especially gained significance for me during my freshman year of college. My mom shipped a care package to me around Valentine’s Day, and guess what?! The package contained lemon bars. I’m a sucker for thoughtful gifts and this one was one of the most thoughtful. I wasn’t expecting any kind of gift at all, and when I received a mail slip my heart exploded in happiness.

When I found out Joanna Gaines was publishing a cookbook, Magnolia Table, I knew I wanted a copy. Joanna does so many things well, and her passions for her business and family always inspire me. She puts her family and faith first and everything else follows. I’ve read the Gaines’ previous books, and they always provided me with great perspective. For instance, in this season of my life, I’ve really been struggling with focusing on the present. Joanna wrote about the importance of finding happiness in each season of life, and she even spoke about her own struggles.

So, when the cookbook arrived at my doorstep, I eagerly paged through it (I haven’t even had a chance to read it all yet, but I’m so excited to get to it). However, even though I haven’t had the chance to read all of it, I did find the lemon bar recipe, and I couldn’t resist. I had to make them right away.

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Isn’t the picture from Joanna’s cookbook gorgeous? One of the things I loved most about this recipe is how simple it is. It was easy to make and didn’t take a thousand ingredients. I’m so used to getting a cookbook and finding a relatively separate dish made super complex, but Joanna doesn’t do that. Her recipe only takes seven ingredients, and I already had them all at home – no special runs to the grocery store necessary.

And no surprise, when I was done, the end product was perfection.

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I know, I know, it’s not a beautiful picture. It was dark and I had no natural lighting, but if you guys could only smell my kitchen! Also, I need to acquire a sifter. My powder sugar is embarrassingly clumpy. If you want to donate to my cooking cause (in the form of a sifter), you can click this link here. I wanted to eat them immediately, so it was torture to wait for them to cool. However, I persevered and it was so worth it.

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Yum, so good, right? Snacking on these is a treat. So what’s my take on Joanna’s cookbook? Well, I’m only one recipe in, but my review is in: the cookbook is great. It’s thought-filled, practical, and tasty. I can’t wait to try all the recipes!

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