Back to School

School starts on Tuesday... where did the time go?
I'm teaching a new grade level this year, so this school year will definitely be an adventure!
My classroom is 95% ready, but somehow I feel like no matter what I do it won't be perfect.  I guess that's the Type-A teacher in me.

Are your kids heading back to school next week?  If so, wishing you a happy first day!


Quote of the Week

"Education is the the movement from darkness to light."
~ Allan Bloom

School starts one week from today...


Toothless Wonder

Did I tell you my cat had 11 teeth extracted last week?  Yes, you read that right...11!  ELEVEN!   How many teeth does a cat have, you might be asking yourself.  Thirty to be exact.  I had to google it and then confirm with the vet (just to be sure). 

Yes, my poor Jenga went in for a routine teeth cleaning (or at least, I had assumed it was routine).  I had to sign a sizable load of paperwork to even release her for this routine procedure.  A few hours later, I received a phone call, telling me my poor cat has a genetic condition where her body is basically viewing her teeth as "foreign," trying to rid itself of them, so many of her teeth were basically decaying in her mouth.  OUCH!  Can you believe that?!  My poor, poor kitty, I felt so bad for her.  The vet said she had probably been in a lot of pain up until this point, which made me feel horrible (since she hadn't been acting any different).  Luckily the procedure would alleviate much of her discomfort and lead her on a path to feeling better ASAP...phew!

So a few hours later, I picked up my groggy, drugged up, out-of-it cat, 11-teeth lighter, to take her home to recuperate and sleep off the worst of it.  A week and a few bottles of medicine later, she is doing much, much better.  Turns out, 11 missing teeth isn't as obvious as one would think.  Now, she's got one mean snaggletooth to boast about at the end of the day.  :) 


Link Love

This is one of the last weekends left before we head back to school!  I'm looking to enjoy the last few days of summer vacation at a BBQ with friends, among other low key activities.  Have a wonderful weekend!

+ Very cool driftwood wreath

+ Ever had a ginger-strawberry pie?

+ Favorite fall trend - lace, lace, and more lace!

+ Pretty ombre cakes

+ Custom birthday wine labels 

+ Excited to try this new kale salad with shredded gruyere + hazelnuts

+ Cutest Halloween costume for a new mama & baby

+ Soft curls via flat iron (I have seen this done, it does work!)

Weeknight Baking: Brownies

This brownie recipe via Smitten Kitchen popped up in my google reader feed yesterday, and I was powerless to resist.  With no plans for the evening, a stocked pantry, and plenty of eggs to bring the brownies to life, my mind was made up.  Brownies for dessert?  Yes, please!  I would've posted my own picture had I had the time to actually take one, since I pretty much ate these straight from the pan.   If you're in the mood for brownies, I recommend you try these!

Target Finds

I made a massive Target run today, and had plenty of loot to show for it!  Don't you just love Target?  I do, a little too much I fear... I've taken up the habit of making explicit, finite lists of what I need before I enter the premises, otherwise I end up leaving arms loaded up with unnecessary goods. Some of my better finds from this excursion include...

Orla Kiely Method soap - I'm always a sucker for eye-catching packaging, and the patterns adorning these bottles are simply lovely!  Even the flavors are fancy - vanilla chai, bay leaf, and primrose hand soap + ginger peach countertop spray.  I took the opportunity to play around with my new camera to photograph their colorful, whimsical designs.  Thanks Holly for the insider tip!
 Revlon ColorBurst lip butters - these are A-MAZING!  Take the texture of Chapstick and pair with rich, luscious color.  The lipstick goes on creamy and smooth, and the shades vary from matte to shimmery.  My personal faves are peach parfait (shimmer), berry smoothie (matte), and candy apple (matte).  Plus, they are $7, which you can't beat for a good lipstick.
Mrs. Meyer's dishwashing soap - the best!  They always come out with the best scents and there are always new scents entering the mix.  My most recent favorite - honeysuckle.  Sweet + clean!
Leopard pumps!  These were definitely a last minute, impulse purchase, but I thought they were fun for fall!
Any chance you also find yourself adding random or surprise items into your basket during your adventures shopping here?

Quote of the Week

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Camera 101

Guess what?!  

I got a new camera!  Thanks to all of your advice, suggestions, and words of wisdom.  I ended up going with a Nikon D5100, and I love it!  My husband and I spent last weekend playing with our new toy, fiddling with settings, shutter speed, aperture...I feel like I need to learn a whole new language to understand all of it, but I'm excited!!

Now I am looking for any helpful advice on how to best understand and utilize my camera to its fullest.  Any suggestions of books, youtube tutorials, or sites that you found helpful for getting to know your camera?


Dinner Last Night: Spicy Peanut Portobello Kale Rice Bowl

I just finished watching Forks Over Knives, an eye opening, informative food documentary, which encouraged me to revisit the contents of my fridge.  In an effort to eat a more plant-based diet, I promptly made this for dinner, spicy peanut portobello kale rice bowl.  It required a handful of bowls to prep, but turned out pretty good!  Yay for another successful (and delicious) kale recipe!


Last Great Book I Read

I have a double dose of "Last Great Book I Read" for you today, since I've been trying to maximize my last few weeks of summer vacation by catching up on my reading.  

I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert
This book hooked me right away, always a good sign!  This memoir details the life of Jennifer Gilbert, a groundbreaking female entrepreneur working the event circuit in NYC. Gilbert shares her experiences about a violent event that happened to her in her young adulthood, moving on, letting go, and learning how to really live.  Throughout the memoir, she speaks candidly about all of the insecurities behind her wildly successful facade in refreshingly honest, relatable way. Highly recommend!
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This book is topping the bestseller charts right now, and I now understand why. I devoured this book, seriously, I read this in less than 48 hours!  It is an incredibly engaging, often dark read, peppered by endless unpredictable twists and turns throughout.   The chapters alternate narrators in sequence, so the back and forth point of view keeps you anxiously hanging on for more.  Not sure how I feel about the ending, but this book is a page turner if there ever was one!

 What have you been reading lately?


Salad Savvy: Massaged Kale Salad

I admit, I was initially reluctant to jump on the raw kale bandwagon, but once I did, I haven't looked back!  I was introduced to this salad by my friend Baillie, who served this salad at a recent dinner party.  My husband (always a bit skeptical of kale) ate every bite, it was insanely good!  We also had a good chuckle over the name of the dish, massaged kale salad.  It's not everyday you think about massaging salad, but you literally massage the dressing to soften the tough kale leaves.

The dressing is sooo ridiculously easy, it's almost comical.  I actually had to double back and reread the recipe going, "wait a minute...did I forget an ingredient?!"  Nope.  Honey + lemon juice + olive oil.  That's all, easy peasy.  The tart of lemon balanced with the sweetness of mango made for gustatory perfection, I truly forgot I was eating kale.  The recipe calls for pepitas, which I didn't have on hand, but I tossed a handful of blueberries instead, and it tasted just fine.

Other tried & true kale recipes

Weekday Baking: Greek Yogurt Banana Muffins

This morning I made banana muffins, inspired by a bunch of bananas I had that were rapidly turning brown and freckled, which basically means...use or lose!  Use I did, and a healthier version I found via a google, searching "banana muffins, greek yogurt."  The recipe was butter-free, but included greek yogurt and cinnamon.  The result: amazingly moist muffins!  In my baking experience, I sometimes have a tendency to overcook baked goods, drying them out, but these were lovely and luscious!  
Hip hip hooray!

Phone Talker

Did you read Joanna's post about talking to friends on the phone?  It got me to thinking how many people I actually talk on the phone to (on a regular basis).  My husband, parents, my sisters, and two out-of-state college girlfriends...  Even though most of my friends live in my same city, I realize we rarely talk on the phone.  Yes, we email and we text...but, is that really the same as a good old phone conversation?

 I know many people abhor talking on the phone, but I've always been a phone talker.  In middle school, talking on the phone to friends (after I had just seen them earlier in the day at school, mind you) was THE THING to do.  Of course, this was back before having call-waiting was the universal standard, and my parents used to hem and haw at me over constantly occupying the house line.  I can picture my 13-year old self, knees bent, feet propped up on the desk, rocking back in my chair, while twisting and knotting the curly white phone cord around in my fingers.  I'm not sure what we spent all those hours actually discussing, but those conversations were of the utmost value and significance to me at the time.   I even asked my parents if I could have my own phone line as a birthday gift, to which they scoffed and decidedly replied, absolutely not!

I really like Joanna's tip for the 5-minute phone call, that way there's that verbal connection that seems so much more personal and connected that a 10-15 worded text.  A shout out to my friends, be forewarned, I may try and call you next time, I realize not all of you are phone talkers, but how hard is 5 minutes, right? 

Do you talk much on the phone?  Or do you prefer texting/emailing?


Olympics Link Love - Part 2

So excited for Nathan Adrian, gold medalist in the 100 meter freestyle, representing Washington state, the unofficial hometown hero!  Adrian hails from Bremerton, Washington (a short ferry ride outside of Seattle), so he's definitely representing our fair state at the Olympics!

I know you're probably sick of my Olympic posts, but in light of emotion, energy, and enthusiasm surrounding the games, I simply couldn't resist!

+ Love Samsung's pass the torch via phone - can someone please make this a real app??

+ Kate and Will show their spirit by doing the wave during tennis match

+ Olympic entertaining - edible flaming torch veggie appetizer

+ The inside scoop on Olympic trampolining

+ Very cool "Fab Five" time lapse photo

+ A peek at Horse Guards Beach (Olympic beach volleyball arena) - check out the skyline!  (Also, did you hear, apparently the rowdy crowd at the Olympic beach volleyball match was asked to "keep the noise down" during the Prime Minister's nap!)

Quote of the Week

"If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."
~ Roald Dahl

My Second Book Club

I started a book club.  Yes, yes, you may remember, I'm actually already a member of another book club with my college girlfriends, but being the reader-bug that I am, I figured, why not?  Two book clubs = twice the fun!  {Plus, how long do we really spend talking about the book? 30 minutes...tops? It's basically an excuse to get together and drink wine}.

A few of my girlfriends came over, I served grilled asparagus tartinescorn chowder salad, and a green salad with blueberries, avocado, and goat cheese.   We dined al fresco on my deck, sipping white wine, and cooing to baby Oliver who popped by for a visit with his mama (our friend Anna).  After dinner, we delved right into chatting about our first book, 50 Shades of Grey.  I know, I know, not exactly a literary marvel, nor even remotely close...but hey, I figured summer is the perfect time for an easy read, where you don't have to think too hard to follow along, and this book definitely fit the bill.

We capped off our night watching women's gymnastics and the Fab 5, polishing off the last of our prosecco, while rooting for team USA, all the way to the gold medal podium.  All in all - a great night.  



Flipping through (and trying to get inspired by)...

Travel dreaming about here...

And enjoying the warm sunshine.