Monday, June 30, 2014

Just One: Tybee Island


We just got back last night from a 4-day weekend trip to Tybee Island and Savannah. As much as I would love to have a post ready to go this morning with all the details from our trip, I don't. I promise to share everything this week though.

To hold you over until then, I thought I would share just one of my favorite pictures from the trip. I took this yesterday, the last morning of our trip, while we were walking the beach and admiring the sunrise through the clouds.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Simple DIY Wedding Centerpieces

One of the most popular posts on this blog is the one where I share pictures from our wedding reception. Thanks to Pinterest our centerpieces have become a huge hit on the blog!

The best part? They are super simple to make. And really cheap too!

Here's where we bought everything:
  • Vases (short & medium) - Dollar store
  • Vases (tall) - my mom had in storage
  • Mirror tiles - my mom had in storage too
  • Black rocks/pebbles - Michaels
  • Silk hydrangeas - Michaels
  • Floating candles - Dollar store
  • Kissing bells - yard sale (ribbon from Michaels)
  • Water - free from the sink
  • Food coloring - Sacks (a local dented can store)

We had a couple of boxes of neon food coloring in our pantry and played around with the colors. The color chart on the back of the box had suggestions for turquoise, so we used that as our jumping off point.

Before the wedding, we made large batches of the colored water and stored them in old milk jugs. Doing it before hand gave us time to make sure that all of the jugs were a consistent color, and it saved time the day of the wedding putting it all together.

We mixed up our centerpieces so that half the tables had what you see above, and the other half had a lower centerpiece with black sand and votive candles in a bowl. But these were our favorites!

I can't believe how popular this simple centerpiece has become, but I'm happy to see that others appreciate a simple, yet elegant centerpiece. 

One last tip: One of the things that we did prior to the wedding was collect a bunch of boxes - one for each table at the reception. In each box we placed everything that table would need. Rather than having a box of candles and running around to each table, each box had the exact number of candles the table needed. We also attached a photo of what the table should look like for easy reference. As someone who has helped quite a few friends set up their wedding reception, spending the time before the wedding to organize everything saves a lot of time the day of the wedding. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Recipe Review: Cinnamon French Toast Bake

Every year, I promise my AP students that I'll provide breakfast for them the morning of their AP exam. It was something that my AP English did for me and my classmates my senior year, and its something that I wanted to pass on to my students. Although my English teacher took us out to a restaurant the morning of our AP exam, I don't have that kind of money (not to mention there isn't a place large enough, or open that early in the morning, where I live now). So I bring breakfast to them.

Normally, the breakfast consists of donuts, fruit, granola bars, juice, and water. But this year, I had twice as many mouths to feed than I did in previous years. So, I was on the hunt for something that could be made on a larger scale, but still relatively cheap.

I found this recipe:

Cinnamon rolls? Icing? French toast? Syrup? Perfect!

I made a total of 4 casseroles the morning of the AP exam. It was pretty simple and straightforward. The only thing I left out of the original recipe was the nuts. I pre-mixed the eggs, vanilla, cream, and cinnamon the night before to save time in the morning. Then, it was just a matter of cutting up the cinnamon rolls and assembling everything.

The kids loved it! Even in their sleepy, just-rolled-out-of-bed state, they had nothing but positive things to say about the casseroles.

I still provided bananas and apples for those students who were "carb conscious," as well as milk, juice, and water bottles. Overall, we only ate 3 out of the 4 casseroles. That was enough for each of the 70 students (yes, 70!) to have one helping. When I realized there wasn't enough for everyone to have seconds, I reserved the last casserole and shared it with the teachers in my building & department. 

This is definitely a recipe I'll use again! I think this might become my AP exam day tradition with my students. If you're looking for something sweet and filling, you will definitely want to try out this recipe.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Until July...

Summer gives me time to do all the things that are harder to get done during the school year. 

Deep clean the apartment. Take a mini vacation. Hang out with friends. Go shopping. Make appointments to see the doctor and the dentist. Have a Walking Dead marathon. Spend time with family. 

I'm not going to lie though. Sleeping in is the best part of summer. Most nights I stay up late and sleep in until nearly noon. Sometimes even later. And I don't feel guilty for one second. It's nice to just lay in bed, not have anywhere to be, and just be lazy.

Sure, there's a long list of things I need to be working on for my classroom for next year. Lesson plans I need to work on. Powerpoints that need to be tweaked. YouTube videos I need to download. But I try not to think about those things just yet. 

That list can wait...

At least until July...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Just Because

I feel like I need to get something off my chest. It's been bothering me for a little while now, but I'm not the type of person to just come out and say what's on my mind. But today.... Today I feel the need to rant.

Just because my husband and I have been together for nearly a decade....
Just because we've been married for two and a half years....
Just because I'm in my mid-twenties....
Just because you use to know me in high school....
Just because we're friends on Facebook....
Just because you see my photos on Instagram....

....doesn't mean you get to inquire about when my husband and I plan on having children. Especially if you're someone that I haven't spoken to in years. Because, if we had spoken, you would probably already know the answer to your question.

I mean, I understand the questions coming from close family and friends. That's a given. I can even understand the question coming from coworkers because I see them everyday. I even understand when my students ask because they are simply curious and they don't quite understand how personal a question that can be.

But I can't understand getting questions like that from people who I only converse with by hitting the "Like" button on a photo or status update.

Why is it that people feel the need to butt into someone else's personal life? I mean, do you really want me to discuss what me and my husband do behind closed doors? Because that's essentially what you're asking. No matter what the answer is to your question, it all revolves around sex, how much or little we're having, and whether its working or not.

I'm not prude, but I don't feel the need to discuss that over social networks. Especially on social networks where my mom, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews can read what I write. And especially with people who I haven't spoken to since high school or college.

Please understand that your question is a very personal question. And it's an awkward question to answer sometimes. So, if you think I'm just simply blowing you off or ignoring you, you thought right. If you actually thought that I would entertain your question with an answer, you thought wrong.

I promise, when I am pregnant, and feel comfortable enough to announce it, you'll see it along with everyone else on my Facebook or Instagram because I'm sure I'll have some cheesy announcement. A cheesy announcement, which will probably be totally unoriginal and stolen from Pinterest.

End rant.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What I Won't Miss About Renting

We made quite a bit of progress on our packing this weekend. We're officially at that point where we aren't really sure what to pack next. Our walls are bare and our bookcase is empty. We don't want to go too crazy, since we're still waiting to hear back from the bank on a closing date.

But, the closer we get to owning our first home, the more our conversations turn to all the things we won't miss about living in an apartment. So I thought I would list the "Top 5" things we are looking forward to not having when we move.

The first on the list is the trash compactor. Its what I would call a necessary evil. It's necessary to get rid of everyone's trash when you live in such tight quarters. But, when people don't use it properly, trash tends to start overflowing. This is what it looked like just two weeks ago...

Gross, right? You don't even want to know how bad it smelled...

This thing breaks down at least once a month. Sometimes, I think its just because people don't know how to use it properly. Once someone puts trash in it and it starts compacting, you have to let it finish before you open it up again. I doubt people are patient enough to wait, thus causing the machine to malfunction, and back up with trash to the point where people just leave it on the sidewalk.

Another thing I won't miss about living in an apartment is not being able to personalize. I love to decorate! I'm no professional, but I still like to personalize whatever space I'm living in. The fact that we can't paint or nail into the walls drives me crazy. The most I've really done to make this apartment feel like a home is create a gallery wall in our dining room space. 

Noisy/smelly neighbors is something that has become a problem recently. When we first moved in nearly 3 years ago, there weren't many families living in our building. Now, however, practically every unit is occupied. So we now get to listen to our neighbors upstairs walking around or running on their treadmill. And we get to smell whatever our next door neighbor is cooking for lunch and dinner. Oh, and let's not forget the smell of cigarettes coming from the patio below us. Or the loud dogs in the apartment across from us who bark every time we pull our keys out. We're looking forward to having a little more breathing room between us and our future neighbors.

I think what we're looking forward to the most, though, is having a backyard. One of the downsides to living in an apartment, especially one on the second floor, is that you have only a small outdoor space and are typically limited to a balcony. Our balcony is large enough to hold our bikes and two chairs. But, our chairs are usually occupied by these four-legged furry creatures....

We can't wait to have a little bit of a yard and a large, screened in patio that will have enough seating for us and the cats.

Speaking of the cats, one of the things we hate about our apartment is the carpet. Our cats, as much as we love them, are prone to accidents. No matter what remedy we try, they still have the occasional accident. Having carpet makes it really hard to clean up the messes. Even if we can get the carpets clean, we know the pad underneath still isn't as clean as it should be. We've always talked about a house with tile or wood flooring, which would make cleaning up after our three fur babies a little easier.

So those are the things we're the most happy about leaving behind when we move. Any other renters out there feel our pain? What would you add to the list?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Let the Packing Begin

We're making progress on the purchase of our first home. There are still a lot of things that could go wrong, so we're trying not to get too ahead of ourselves. But, after two and half months of waiting, we're officially under contract. Now it's a matter of getting the appraisal and home inspection done, then waiting on the bank to finalize everything.

Even though the house isn't officially ours yet, and we don't have a closing date set in stone, we decided to get a head start on packing. 

The plan is to pack up all of our non-essentials. Like picture frames, books, and winter clothes. We're hoping that by the time all of that is finished, we'll have heard back from our bank on a firm closing date, and move forward with packing everything else.

This home buying process has been stressful, but we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can't wait until we have the keys to our new home. Then I can share a lot more about everything we've learned throughout this process.

So, our weekend will be spent with cardboard, newspaper, tape, and sharpies. What will you be up to this weekend?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ring Swap

Since we got married back in 2011, I've rarely found the need to take off my wedding rings. 

I think I took them off a couple times on our honeymoon for fear of losing them in the ocean. And every 6 months I have to take them to be inspected. Other than that, I usually only take them off when I put lotion on my hands because I don't like lotion getting stuck between the diamonds on the band.

About a year ago, a weird rash broke out on one of my hands and arms. I've got pretty sensitive skin, so rashes aren't anything new to me. I went and saw a dermatologist about it, and he said that I have eczema. Said it was a pretty typical skin condition, prescribed a lotion for when it got really irritating, and sent me on my way.

At first, it wasn't a big deal. The initial rash went away quickly, and my skin was back to normal. I even took a picture the next week and sent it to my mom. She had trusted me to get a new stone put into her engagement ring, and I was sending her the "after" photo. 

Isn't her engagement ring gorgeous?

But lately, I've found myself having to take my rings off for prolonged periods of time. The skin under my rings has become red, scaly, irritated, and at times, painful. 

It started during the winter and progressively got worse. There were times where I'd take my rings off at night and forget to put them back on the next day before leaving for work. My students even started asking why I wasn't wearing my rings. Some days, so that I wasn't entirely without my rings, I'd wear them on a necklace.

Once school let out, I decided to take the rings and get them resized. The summer seemed like the perfect time to get it done. Luckily, when Dan bought my rings, he purchased the insurance plan which allows me to get them resized at any time, free of charge.

We dropped off the rings a few days ago, and they should be back by the end of the month. It feels so weird not having them on! When I go out of the house, I still like to have something on my ring finger. I dug into my jewelry box and found my old class ring. So I've been wearing that around lately so that my finger doesn't feel totally naked.

The nice part about wearing my class ring is that it completely covers the redness underneath and it's still loose enough not to cause more irritation. Plus, it's nice to get a little more usage out of a ring that I haven't really worn in a few years.

Hopefully by the end of the month I'll be able to swap my high school ring back out for my wedding rings. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Things My Students Day: Death

So you can imagine, as a teacher, I hear all sorts of random and crazy things coming out of the mouths of teenage students on a pretty regular basis. Usually, I just laugh and move on. But sometimes, the things that they say are so funny that I have to stop and write it down so I can share it. And even though school is out for the summer, I've had a few of these in my draft folder waiting to be shared. I wish I was making this stuff up....

Student #1: What did President Polk die from?
Student #2: Death.
Student #3: He got ran over by a reindeer.
Student #4: He went on the Oregon Trail and died from dysentery.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jar of Summer Fun

Normally during my summer vacations I have a lot of time to myself. However, this year, thanks to Dan's work schedule, we have a lot more time to spend with each other. Should be a great blessing. But sometimes we run out of ideas of what to do together. So we end up spending the day in front of computer and television screens. Not exactly what we envisioned for our summer.

So, I turned to Pinterest for ideas. There were quite a few summer bucket lists out there, but none that fit everything that Dan and I wanted to do. Plus, we weren't exactly wanting a checklist. More a way to come up with an activity when we were feeling bored.

Solution? A jar and cardstock.

I took the ideas that I liked from the bucket lists and wrote them down on pieces of cardstock that I had stored away in a box. Then, I found a jar that was left over from our wedding decor and put all the activity ideas in there. But, before I did, I made sure to ask Dan if he liked the ideas that I put in there, and also asked him if there was anything else he wanted to add.

I put the jar in our dining room so that it was in a central location. Plus, we have to walk by it all day, every day, so it's a constant reminder that if we're bored, we can just pull something out of the jar. The rule is that if we pull it, we have to do it (unless its an outdoor activity and the weather is crappy). And, if it requires a little bit of travel, then we spend time planning the trip for the next day we're both home.

Here's a list of some of the activities we added to our jar:
  • Go to the beach
  • Walk around a local park/square
  • Wash the cars
  • Paper airplane contest
  • Go fly a kite
  • Feed the ducks
  • Stargazing date on the balcony
  • Play a card/board game
  • Go to a local baseball game
  • Have a themed movie marathon using DVDs we already own
  • Make root beer floats
  • Frozen yogurt date
  • Go to a drive-in movie
  • Go to Sea World
  • Create a photo scavenger hunt competition
  • Go bowling
  • Try a new recipe
  • Have a picnic
  • Learn a new cocktail
  • Random act of kindness for a stranger

Does your family make a summer bucket list? How do you organize your list? Any other activities you would add to your list?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Legoland

So, I'm a little late in posting this. But I better late than never, right?

A few weekends ago, Dan and I went to Legoland with some friends of ours. These friends both happen to be teachers at my high school and we all work in the same building. The cool part about being friends with other teachers is that we can all benefit from the teacher perks that local attractions offer. Like the fact that Legoland offers free annual passes to Florida teachers.

But those perks don't extend to teacher spouses, so we normally have to pay for Dan to get into the park. However, Legoland had a First Responders appreciation month in May. Since Dan is an EMT, he was able to get a free one-day pass. So the four of us got into the park for the price of parking.

It was the first time any of us had been to this theme park, so we weren't sure what to expect. We all assumed going into it that it would be geared more towards children than adults, and Legoland didn't disappoint in that aspect. All of the rides are set up so that one kid and one adult can sit together. I really don't think the rides are made so that two adults can sit in the same row - there were quite a few times where we had to squeeze together to fit.

I think the boys favorite part were the mini Lego cities.

 Key West & Daytona International Speedway

Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine

State Capitol Building in Tallahassee

 And, the White House complete with the First Family and their dog Beau on the front steps!

My favorite part was the fact that they kept some of the original Cypress Gardens. Cypress Gardens was the original "theme park" where Legoland currently sits. It was full of beautiful gardens with southern belles wandering about, and had an awesome water stunt show. The park closed down years ago, but Legoland kept some of its original beauty in a small section of their park. Although the southern belles are no longer there, Legoland did create life-size versions of them to welcome you to the gardens.

Overall though, it was a fun afternoon. It was nice to get out and see a new theme park. I don't think any of us will be headed back to Legoland any time soon, unless its to check out their waterpark (which is included in the teacher pass). We all pretty much agreed that it probably would have been more fun had we taken children along and had experienced the park through their eyes.

Although, that didn't stop us from acting like children and playing with Legos whenever we got the chance!

Anyone else been to Legoland? Or maybe you know of other teacher perks out there? I know Sea World has the same annual teacher pass deal. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

10 Things I've Learned from NCIS

What I love about summer vacation? The ability to essentially watch all the t.v. I want. What I hate about summer? All of my favorite shows have ended for the season and there are only reruns to watch. The irony, right? One of the shows the hubby and I watch religiously is NCIS. Bad guys. Crime fighting. Sarcasm. What isn't there to like?

So I thought I'd share 10 things that I've learned from watching NCIS.

#10 It's always good to admit when you're wrong.

#9 And saying "thank you" goes a long way.

#8 When technology isn't working right, it's totally appropriate to pick it up and shake it.

#7 Life is better when you have a team of friends to experience it with.

#6 Regardless of how long it's been since you've last seen your best friend, you can always pick up where you left off. 

#5 There is always that one friend who takes a little longer to "get it."

#4 Your friends will be there to help when things get tough.

#3 When your friend has a crazy idea, it's okay to just go along with it.

#2 You need friends in your life who will give you a good kick in the butt when you need it.

#1 Sometimes, a Gibbs slap is totally warranted.

Any other NCIS fans out there? What are some lessons your favorite television show has taught you?


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