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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My Quest For The Perfect Nude Lipstick

Beauty

If you have followed my blog from the beginning, first of all, thank you, and secondly, you are well aware of my quest for the perfect wedding lipstick. I really should document my journey for makeup more thoroughly, but sometimes I get caught up in the quest and forget the picture taking part (which is also totally okay – not everything has to be a blog post).

One of my most sought after beauty products is the nude lipstick, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. Partly, the struggle to find the perfect nude shade, is that we all have a different natural shade, so what is nude for me is not nude for you, which means while we can all gather information or inspiration from our online beauty communities, in the end we all must conduct some beauty experimenting. This, of course, is complicated by the fact that often our our skin tones deepen and lighten along with the changing seasons. I feel like it can be especially tough for me at times, because of my freckles, as well. And while all of this adds to our trials, if you love makeup, then you also realize that sometimes the difficulties are the best part because you always get to keep trying new products, even if you find one you like, because you can never be sure when the brand might stop producing it.

Besides dealing with the complexity of our skin tones, when looking for lipstick you must also decide what kind of “nude” you want. Do you want a nude red, pink, tan, or maybe one with a hint of gray-purple? Plus, you have to consider what kind of finish you want. Do you want a matte, gloss, semi-gloss, or something in-between? There are no easy answers when it comes to lipstick, which is probably why I own so many tubes of nude-ish shades that all are just slight variations from each other.

My go-to shades are still the same as my wedding trials: BareMinerals Gen Nude Radiant Lipstick in Heaven, Urban Decay Vice Sheer Lipstick in Liar, and MAC Lipstick Plum in Soar. These are all creamy or sheer lipsticks, so even the plum is more of a deep nude (it’s the one I ended up wearing in my wedding and I’m so glad I did because it looked perfect in the pictures). My favorite matte shade is Tarte’s Birthday Suit in their Creamy Matte Lip Paint (I’ve also covered this lip shade before in a previous post). I’ll be honest, I love the look of matte lipsticks, but I wear them rarely because of the drying effect on my lips. I probably own another three shades of true matte nudes, but I wouldn’t ever call them my favorites because of how drying they can be. However, Tarte’s line of Creamy Matte Lip Paint isn’t drying at all. I’m dependent on this line for my matte looks.

As you can see, my quest for the perfect “nude” lip is well documented, and I have found plenty of great products that I still wear today, but true to my word, I also continually look for new products. And over the weekend, I think I found another nude favorite to add to my shelf – the Josie Maran Argan Lip Sting Plumping Butter in Honey. I ordered it as a sample, it came over the weekend, where I tested it out, and I was pleasantly surprised.

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Let’s first talk about the whole “Lip Sting Plumping” thing. It worked for me. It definitely stung and it even plumped. Of course, with any lipstick, this is an effect that wears off. If you want the plumped look continually – you’ll need to reapply this often (or get fillers). While plumper lips were a nice bonus, that’s not why I was interested in this product. It was actually for the color, and I was happily surprised. It looked soo good on that even my husband complimented me, and he had no idea I was trying a new lipstick shade.

Also, I should mention that I already love a lot of products from Josie Maran’s line, and the fact that the line falls under “clean beauty” is a huge plus for me. Honestly, I usually stay away from lip plumping products because I’m afraid I’ll have another allergic reaction and have to be rushed to the emergency room – one lipstick related allergic reaction is enough to last a lifetime if you ask me. I was willing to try this line knowing that Josie Maran products fall into the clean beauty category.

Sephora’s website says the active ingredients are “100 Percent Pure Argan Oil, Volulip™ (a natural peptide and plant extract), Manuka Honey, Moringa Butter, and Konjac Root Ultra-filling spheres. These ingredients do a variety of things, and cover everything from soothing and smoothing to plumping and improving elasticity. While I personally did not find this lip butter especially hydrating, I also didn’t find it especially drying. The product is something I can use regularly, it’s a pretty “nude” color, and it does what it says it does. Overall, I think it’s a win. Plus if you like the way things look (like I do), even the casing looks super pretty.

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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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