FriYAY!!! The weekend is upon us. This weekend, I’m at the beach with some of my favorite people, celebrating my best friend Whitney for her bachelorette weekend! She’ll be getting married in about a MONTH – I can’t believe it and I can’t wait to stand up there next to her while she marries the love of her life! Her bridal shower was in February, which was a ton of fun, so I know this weekend will be grand. I’ve really been looking forward to it!
I’m soready for spring and Whitney’s wedding has kind of been that stepping stone for me – like, by the time she gets married, spring will be HERE. And then before you know it, the 100 degree, 100% humidity days will start rolling in just in time for mine and Andrew’s wedding in July! I especially love the warmer weather for when I go watch Andrew’s baseball games after school. At the beginning of the season, it’s frigid by the end of the game, but by the end of the season, I’m getting sunburned and sweating. Either way, I still love it!
Speaking of Spring, all the florals are out in stores in full fledged glory. I’m loving this dress – and you can’t beat a price like that for a nice dress from Loft!
I’m starting to think about the honeymoon in July, and I realized I don’t have a matching set of luggage. When I graduated high school, I got a nice set – but that was 13 years ago! That makes me feel old. I’m l-o-v-i-n-g this set and daydreaming of my new monogram – but this one is probably a more affordable and realistic option!
That’s about all that’s going on with me! Celebrating huge life events like my best friend getting married, preparing for mine and Andrew’s wedding, my best friend Kelly having a baby in May…and our high school’s spring break and Andrew’s birthday are in just a couple of weeks! I’m so looking forward to that week off so I can take care of things I really need to do – like deep clean, de-clutter and donate things I am no longer using, and do my taxes (fingers crossed!).
I’ll be sharing photos and insta stories of Whitney’s bachelorette weekend for the next couple of days, so follow along on Instagram! Enjoy the weekend!
This one goes out to all of the passionate educators who raise our nation’s children, and to all the heavy hearts wearing heavy boots.
I’ve struggled a lot over the last few days on whether or not to post this. I’m not usually one to get political, or rock the boat, or to get people up in arms. But I am personally up in arms, and I’m having a hard time. Is anyone else wearing heavy boots? I explained the heavy boots thing in this post . The recent world events and school shootings, which should not be plural, have been weighing so heavily on me these past few days and I can’t write a joyful post about clothes or coffee or happiness because I’m just feeling really let down by society right now.
I am incredibly passionate about people, and I do believe that there is beauty and goodness in the world. I have to. There are beautiful things happening in front of us every single day. But working in the education system, and more specifically in a public high school, has made these events and this topic hit very close to home, and I feel like I’ve been carrying something around that keeps getting heavier and heavier.
I’m not sure when exactly a teacher’s job description shifted to include needing to protect the lives of children and adolescents in the event of a deadly shooting attack. I remember in high school having my first ever code red lockdown drill after the tragic events at Columbine, and thinking it was so weird and scary to be pretending like something like that was happening at our school. As high school juniors and seniors, we scrunched up behind our teacher’s desk with all the blinds shut, giggling and acting like it wasn’t a real issue, and if it was, it was certainly one that would never touch us. But here it is, over 10 years later, still happening, ever-present. And now, as an adult, every year when we have our annual lockdown drill at school, I shove my students into a closet and lock the doors and shut the blinds and turn off the lights and feel my heartbeat race, even though it’s just a drill. There is an eerie presence of this terrifying reality even in our preparation and training for an event that we pray will never come.
We continue to put band-aids on things without dealing with the root cause of the issue. Violence is not the answer to violence. Arm me with a deadly weapon?! How is this even an INKLING of a thought? Arm me with a school culture that is safe and nurturing, arm me with policies that keep people from purchasing automatic assault weapons. Arm me with mental health resources for children who I can sense, as someone who spends a lotof time getting to know them, are on the verge of a mental breaking point and are in serious, urgent need of attention RIGHT NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week when the paperwork goes through. Arm me with a reassurance that this chronic mental health crisis in our nation is getting the attention it deserves and that the stigma we place on mental health issues is going to change. Arm me with a system that listens and reacts when warning signs are documented and vocalized instead of waiting until it’s too late. Arm me with all of those things, and so many more, but do not place the ridiculous responsibility of carrying a gun at school on our teachers who already have overflowing lists of responsibilities that we can’t possibly keep up with.
It would be silly to say that this isn’t a political debate. Of course it is – policy brings change, and policy means politics. But maybe we should try to look at it as a human race stance rather than a political one: No matter who our leader is, no matter what your political beliefs are, the fact of the matter is that we, as a nation, have a serious problem. This is a systemic and societal problem that is intertwined in so many layers, and it is too complicated to fix immediately, and I think that is why it’s so hard for me. It’s no one’s fault, and it’s everyone’s fault. It’s hard to see a system with good intentions fail our kids, and it’s hard to watch and feel helpless when world events occur that we should have been able to prevent. I saw a Facebook post of a friend recently that has really resonated with me – it’s hard to take a side when this issue is so intertwined. This is not just a gun issue. It isn’t just a mental health issue, or an education issue, or a society issue. It is all of these things and more, left alone to mingle for too many years without change or action and without enough resources, and now here we are, with a mountain in front of us that no one knows how to move. So we’ve just been circling, and I truly hope that we are on the verge of finding a way up. That we are on the edge of banding together to make something real happen for the betterment of our future.
I love my job. I believe that the work I do on a daily basis is worth something. I love watching these students grow and develop into adults who will hopefully be productive members of society and bring positive change. I will never stop believing that the work educators do, day in and day out, is monumental and in some cases, literally life-changing for children and adolescents. They need us, and they need you, and they need a lot of support. They need hope, they need a voice, they need education to help them find their way, and above all of that, they need to feel safe and secure in their schools, especially when many do not feel safe or secure in their homes. I still believe that there is beauty and magic in the world, because without that belief, these things would be too heavy to carry.
Last night, after writing all this, I attended a teacher appreciation dinner one of my students invited me to. Sometimes the good stuff comes just in time. It lifted my spirits in ways I can’t explain, to just sit and be honored in such a sweet way, and to realize that in some small way, I am doing something. But there is still so much left to be done.
flowers from the teacher appreciation dinner, and a beautiful reminder of good things in this world
I am always looking for new products to try out and write about, and I’ve mentioned several times that I love to support local/small businesses. Whitney is always thinking of ideas for me, and a while back she had told me about The Yellow Bird and how she had met the owner at one of her networking meetings for local creatives and business owners. I started following on Instagram and got a feel for the products and the vibes from the company. I loved everything I saw, especially that it is a family owned business, so finally I reached out to one of the owners of the company to see what her suggestions would be for products to try! I love to read reviews and take trusted recommendations from people who know what they’re talking about. She suggested several items including their face oil set, but I had just started using another face oil so I had to try something else. I ended up ordering the activated charcoal soap that comes with the face oil set, and I ordered two of their new bath bombs and this foot cream.
I was so impressed with how fast this shipped and got to me, even over the weekend! When I opened the box, the most divine smells filled my room almost immediately. Andrew walked in and asked if I had sprayed some smelly stuff in the room! I loved the scents of the bath bombs. I also love that the charcoal soap has lemongrass and lavender, two of my favorite relaxing scents. When I use it, my face feels squeaky clean, soft, and all my makeup comes off really easily. And I love the smell! You can’t go wrong with a bath bomb, but these are so pretty, fragrant, and left my skin feeling so smooth and soft when I got out of the bath.
The foot cream is the real MVP. It’s winter, and my skin is dry everywhere, but my feet and hands tend to suffer the most! This foot cream not only smells so fresh, but I woke up with baby feet that were so soft! It’s not a cream like a lotion – it’s more like an oil or a vaseline type of consistency. I slathered it all over my feet and put on my socks before bed. Wonderful results! And with eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree oil, and peppermint, you can’t go wrong!
This post was not sponsored and I truly just love to share trusted recommendations for anyone out there who can benefit from them. The owner of this company was so incredibly kind through our messaging, plus she used to be a teacher too! If you’re in the market for some all natural, made with care skincare and bath products that will help support a family, this is a wonderful non-corporate option. Treat yoself, get a nice gift for someone else, stock up on your bath supplies or skin care items, and support a small business owner! I am dying to try the charcoal salt & sugar scrub next, and when my current face oil runs out I’ll give theirs a try!
There is so much going on and so much to keep up with when you are planning a wedding on top of regular life. I totally see why people hire people to do this for them! I love planning and putting things together, but these are big decisions, and with a full-time job, new classes to teach, a part-time job, and other major life events happening along the way, July is coming faster than I thought! I thought I’d give a little update on where we are for anyone who is interested!
Things we have done: We have booked the venue, photographer, florist, caterer, DJ, and I have a makeup artist and hair artist for all the girls! We have our Save the Date and invitation suite templates, so the next big thing is getting the Save the Dates out! We have also booked our honeymoon flights and resort and I CANNOT wait to spend a week in the sun with Andrew. Neither of us has ever been to an all-inclusive resort, and we have never been away together, not even for a weekend! So it’s going to be so exciting to relax and have no responsibilities together. It will be weird without the doggies, but I know we’ll have such a great trip.
Things we need to do: The next BIG thing on our list is to choose our rentals for catering and decor. We have to choose our table linens, dinnerware, glassware, flatware, all the wares. I have an appointment with the Greenhouse Picker Sisters to look at rental items for decor and furniture in March and I can’t wait to see what they have! If you’ve never checked them out on Instagram, they make beautiful weddings come to life! This week I have been working on blocking off hotel rooms for our guests, and when you’ve never done that before it feels like a lot of pressure to make the right choices.
Soon it will be showers and parties and a bachelorette weekend! But that’s the fun stuff that I don’t have to make decisions about, and I can just spend time with the people I love! Speaking of showers, last Saturday was Whitney’s bridal shower and her mom and our friend Kelly and I were planning for months! It turned out so beautiful and I hope she loved it!!!
I know that all the planning will come together and I can’t wait to see our vision come to life on our big day, but most importantly, I can’t wait to marry my best friend and start our lives together! It will be here in just about five months and I’m counting down the days!
Guys, I realize that just a few posts ago I was writing about shredding for the wedding, and I promise I still am – but you gotta live a little bit, am I right?! Andrew and I recently watched the Super Bowl at a friend’s house, and I brought this cake for dessert. It. Is. Perfection.
It was light, fluffy, lemony, and dangerous. I used this recipe and was so glad it wasn’t completely from scratch because I love to bake but I also love to save time, measuring, and cleanup. PLUS I got to use my brand new KitchenAid mixer!
what a beauty!
My future mother-in-law got this for me this Christmas and I was so excited! I have wanted a KitchenAid mixer for so many years and just have never splurged on one for myself. It was always one of those things I figured I’d get when I got married, but I was so surprised and so happy when I opened this up! Such a great gift! When the new year started I was really focused on my resolutions and being healthy and going to the gym, plus a new semester started and life got really slammed, so when the Super Bowl came around, I was really glad to have a reason to bake something.
So back to the recipe! I literally followed the Crazy for Crust recipe exactly – the only thing I left out was the butter extract, because I couldn’t find any at the store, and certainly not because I wouldn’t have added it.
I mean, it’s called a butter cake. How could it be bad?
The ingredients were simple and the instructions were really easy to follow. My tips: Make sure you grease your pan really well – I thought I did, but one small chunk came off the top of the cake when I dumped it upside down. Secondly, make sure to pour your cake in really evenly, because my cake was slightly lopsided when I got it on the cake stand (but it still tasted delicious!). Also, I used tooth picks to stab my cake for the sauce and everything still turned out amazing. I didn’t buy skewers because I thought we had some at home – luckily we did at least have tooth picks! The sauce floated on top of the cake for a while but eventually it all soaked in. Finally, I would suggest dusting with powdered sugar just before serving because overnight it all soaked in, and it makes such a pretty finishing touch!
i had to try it to make sure it wasn’t poisonous!
I know I’ll be using my KitchenAid mixer a ton in the upcoming months. A lot of my favorite people were born in March, and Andrew’s birthday is in April, so I’ll be trying to find more delectable recipes to whip up in-between my workouts and meal prep!
This post brings me such joy. For Christmas this year, my friend Kelly got me the most divine gift – the gift of high-end paper products! She knows me so, so well.
Cloth & Paper is, you guessed it, a paper company, but they also sell beautiful agendas, inserts/dividers, and high quality pens/pencils. They have a monthly subscription box, which is what Kelly got me for Christmas. They have a pen lovers box and a stationery lovers box. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE?! Well, don’t worry, because you can also choose BOTH. My first box couldn’t be more delightful. It did come with one pen, which I am using on repeat and keeping away from my high school students because it’s so good that it can’t go missing. It’s the kind of stuff that I’m afraid to use because I don’t want to waste it and I want it to be just the right reason…I know I’m lame, but I also KNOW that there are other people out there like me. WHO IS WITH ME?! Don’t leave me hanging!
I loved the to-do note stacks and the plain gold-lined cards. All of the paper on the pads is thick and sturdy, and the sticker packet is so cute! Of course the packaging was also perfection. Sleek + chic, what more could a gal want?
I can’t wait to see what is in my next box! If you need a great gift idea for someone who loves paper, or just a gift for yourself because WHY THE HECK NOT, this is a great way to spread the stationery love around. Thank you Kelly!
Happy Valentine’s Day! I know this is a late-in-the-day post, but it’s still February 14th, so it counts. I had a meeting off campus today so I’m just popping in here between that and my shift at the pub tonight to write a quick little love note.
Whitney delivered our engagement photo gallery yesterday morning, just in time for me to obsess over our pictures and pick my favorites for a Valentine’s Day post!
I love love love these photos for so many reasons. First of all, because all three of the doggies are in them! Secondly, Andrew and I have had zero professional photos before and these are such BEAUTIFUL photos of us. Third, I love to have so many pictures of us laughing together, because that’s our favorite thing to do. Finally, these are so special because my best friend in the entire world took them for us and I couldn’t be more thankful for such a wonderful and beautiful gift.
Tonight, Andrew and I are apart because I’m at the pub and he’s got baseball tryouts after school. If I get off work early we may get to see each other, but we are going to celebrate tomorrow night. Our tradition is just to stay in with the doggies, order take out, and spend time together – that’s what it’s all about! I hope everyone enjoys some time this week with people they love.
So here’s to the man that I love, my best friend and partner in crime, the person that keeps me laughing and balanced and happy. I cannot wait to marry this man.
Here are a few several favorites from our engagement session!
Is it just me, or are the weeks feeling super long and unimaginable?! I am so ready for spring, and the weather here lately has been gray, dreary, and blah. I feel like I have just been going through the motions and not stopping to smell the roses – mostly because I haven’t had the time to! Forget about writing blog posts; I can barely stay a day ahead of my new classes this semester!
I met up with a dear friend recently who has been a mentor to me in so many ways. A strong woman who is full of optimism, advice, and love. She got me a “just because” gift and it made my day. It is the cutest mug and has such a perfect message that feels like just what I need in life right now!
It really is the little things that can make you stop and look at the world a little differently. We spend our lives constantly working for the next thing, pushing ahead, and I am someone in particular who has a hard time stopping to relax because I’ll feel better if I can juuuust get the next thing crossed off my list (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again). But the truth is, life is fast and short and if we don’t make ourselves slow down and take a minute for just nothing, we might miss all of the little somethings that make life so wonderful.
Thank you Irma for reminding me that there are so many reasons to believe in happy.
I recently did a poll on Instagram to see if there would be any interest in these posts, and the results were overwhelmingly a yes! I’ve mentioned before that originally when I decided to start this blog wayyyy back, it was going to be a mostly fitness-related blog. That quickly changed, but as I’m getting back into my fitness for 2018 and to walk down the aisle in July, I thought it would keep me accountable if I shared my progress out loud to the entire internet. And hopefully it will help someone else who’s looking for motivation, workouts, tips, or just wants to follow along!
Our wedding is July 22, so I have 6 months (AHHH!) until our big day. I know that it will be here before I know it. People have lots of opinions about this kind of stuff, but my number one priority is my health and the way I feel about myself. A million people can tell you that you look fine the way you are, but you have to feel it yourself or it won’t matter. I don’t think that someone should lose weight just to get married, but this is a great source of motivation for me personally because I want to feel and look my best on the most important day of my life. My weight has gone up and down my whole adult life, and right now it is up! I need to find a balance between the extremes. I have high blood pressure and need to lose weight just in general for my health, so this is not a crash diet or an unhealthy approach. Secondly, Andrew loves me exactly the way I am and my weight goals are not fueled by him in the slightest, other than having his support for whatever I want to do. This is not about him, this is about me. Thirdly, I 100% believe that whoever you are, wherever you are in your health, it is 100% between you and yourself, and you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. So you do you.
So let’s get started! I’ve been going to the gym with my sister, doing workouts at my apartment gym, and I want to add yoga back in to my weekly routine as well (I’ve let it get away from me). I’m following my Weight Watchers plan and tracking my meals, but I’m also planning out my meals every week and prepping food with my sister to keep us both on track (I’ve mentioned about her fitness competitions here). It has made my weeks so much easier. I know that diet is the huge majority of changing your body. I also know that if my food is already paid for and prepared, it’s harder to justify going out to eat or stopping for something at the drive-through. Meal prepping also makes it easy for me to just grab a lunch for the work day and not worry about what I’m going to eat. My sister and I have a membership to Costco, so we bought a lot of things in bulk and were able to freeze some for the next week.
We just make our plan and decide what needs to be cooked first and how we can start putting together some meals! We use a food scale to weigh things out, as well as a rice cooker to make our rice/quinoa much more quickly and easily! It takes about 3 hours from start to finish, but then you don’t have to cook again the entire week. Kind of nice and makes it easier during a busy week!
allllll the tupperware containers
weighing it out
our batches of broccoli and brussel sprouts for the week
Here are my meals:
Coffee: I saw a meme this week that said something like “I love myself so I use cream in my coffee.” For a long time, I tried drinking mine black to save calories and fat or to drink it with almond milk, which just does not cut it for me. I have to start my day out with coffee and creamer. Just have to. So that’s my daily treat. I like french vanilla creamer, and I do buy sugar free – 1 point on Weight Watchers every morning. I use Truvia or a sugar-free, calorie-free caramel syrup to sweeten it a little.
Breakfast: Either a protein shake or overnight oats. I LOVE overnight oats. So easy and so delicious! I make mine with 1/2 cup oats, a sliced banana, JIF powdered peanut butter (so much better for you), 1 scoop of protein powder, and cover it with cashew milk overnight. This is 7 points on Weight Watchers and fills me up totally until lunch. I wake up at 5 and don’t eat lunch at school until 12, so that’s saying something! If I do a protein shake, I make it in the morning and use it when I know I’ll be going out to eat for dinner or may eat more food that day for whatever reason. It’s only 3 points with 1 scoop of protein, 1 scoop of the same peanut butter powder, and cashew milk. I sometimes add frozen blueberries and cinnamon to the mix!
Lunch: Baked flounder and tri-color quinoa with a tomato/spinach blend on top. This was kind of bland at first, so I started putting a little bit of hot sauce on top with garlic, and even a little parmesan cheese. So good after fixing up the flavor! The second week we prepped (this week), we are doing the same type of quinoa but as a cold Mediterranean side with turkey loin or tuna salad and asparagus (canned asparagus; WAY cheaper and already pre-cut). These meals range from 5-8 Weight Watchers points.
Dinner: Week 1 was either crock pot buffalo chicken tenders or turkey loin cooked in taco sauce and seasonings, jasmine rice, and either broccoli or brussel sprouts. This week we are doing Asian flavored beef bowls with broccoli or brussel sprouts and rice. So good. These meals range from 5-10 points on Weight Watchers.
Snacks: I love cheese, so I usually do a string cheese or a little snack pack cheese square. I like the Cabot Lite 50 calorie cheese snacks (2 points on Weight Watchers). Fruit/veggies are also great for snacks because on Weight Watchers they’re free points. Pickles, an apple, banana, grapes, etc. I also usually do a protein shake after a heavy workout. My sister and I love this kind in cake batter (and we have tried our share of protein powders!). Expensive, but not when you break it down and see how many servings you get – or if you compare the cost to all of the coffees or french fries you might be stopping for here and there! I also like to do 2 boiled eggs for a snack since they’re free now on Weight Watchers, too!
Honestly, I don’t usually get hungry between meals because I am eating a lot of food! It’s just good-for-me food vs. junk. I definitely believe in moderation, and one of my favorite things about Weight Watchers is that it accounts for that. You get a bank of extra points for the week that you can blow on whatever you want, because life happens. You can roll over 4 points a day to save up towards your cheat points, and fitness points get tracked by my Fitbit so I can add those in if I want, too! I plan for one big cheat meal a week and when events come up, like our wedding catering tasting last night, I try to be even smarter throughout the day and make sure I get in a workout that day. It’s not going to be perfect, but the point is that you don’t stop trying!
We are still covered up in snow in the Raleigh area – no school for 3 days! And it’s supposed to be 50 degrees today. That’s NC weather for you. School is open today for teachers, so at least I can get some much needed work hours in!
I meant to do a FriYAY feels last week and it just totally got away from me (in addition to any other posts)! There are so many things going on – Whitney is getting married in April, our best friend Kelly is having a baby in May, and our other friend Jordan is getting married in June. Then Andrew and I are getting married in July! My sister is graduating from grad school in between all that, and there are showers and bachelorette parties and luncheons galore. There are about to be a lot of events in my life in the upcoming months. So exciting, but definitely something that takes up blogging time and brain space!
Speaking of weddings, I went to a bridal showcase at our venue two weekends ago and it was the first time where I really felt like, okay, this is happening. We are really getting married this summer!!! It is going to be here so fast. My mom, my future mother-in-law, and some of my bridesmaids went with me and we had a crew! It was overwhelming but really lovely, and it was so fun to look at everything and feel like a bride! We have three tastings with three different caterers in the next two weeks, so we will have that booked soon. We have a florist, photographer, and a few other big items booked, but we still have so much to do. Our photographer Erica shot one of my best friend Kelly’s weddings a few years ago that I was in, and Whitney has done a couple of shoots for her family, so it’s really a great full-circle kind of feeling and I am so excited to have beautiful pictures of our big day! Whitney will do our engagement and my bridal session. And Andrew has been so good! Helpful and patient – and reminds me when I need to just give it a rest and come back to it later, which is not easy for me.
I have also been sticking with my new year resolutions! I have been hitting my 4 workouts a week by going to the gym with my sister, which has been tough! I’m sticking to my eating goals, too, and I’ve been doing my nightly skin routine. I bought some new skin products, but I’m waiting to see how I like them before I post anything about them. I also went lighter with my hair last weekend and started using TIGI’s dumb blonde shampoo + conditioner; I hope it will keep my hair healthy! It smells so good and makes my hair look so soft. I got mine at Marshall’s for a little less!
I had mentioned my hunt for a nice puffy coat now that it is getting really cold in Raleigh. I ordered this one on Amazon in the merlot color and I am absolutelyloving it. It is so warm and I feel like it looks nice even though it’s puffy! Definitely a keeper and has been so helpful these last few days in the snow.
I really want to get back into my yoga practice, especially with so much going on in my life. I need it to stay sane! And with all the work I’m doing with my sister in the gym, I’m staying sore and need some stretching and relaxation. I plan on checking out this studio sometime soon and supporting my friend Josephine who started her own studio!!! I have been meaning to go and it keeps getting away from me.
That’s all I got! I’ll be starting up a shredding for the wedding series, hopefully next week! And you can follow along with my fitness goals there…it’s a great way to keep me accountable if I know I’m sharing it with everyone! Enjoy the weekend; I’m going with Whitney to try on her wedding dress for the first time since it came in and I CANNOT WAIT to see her in it and cry my eyes out.