FriYAY feels!

cloth & paper notepad, feyoncé mug was a gift!

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 so ready 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’ve been using Tarte’s Shape Tape Concealer for a couple of months now and have COMPLETELY fallen in love with it. I’m still using my Bare Minerals BarePro foundation, but once it runs out, my next purchase will immediately be the new Shape Tape foundation. I can’t wait to try it! I’ll have to decide on either the matte or the hydrating.

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!


Thoughts // Heavy Boots 2

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 lot of 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

Wedding update // #planninonmcclannon

photo by j parker photography

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!

Valentine’s Day

our amazing engagement pictures by j parker photography

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!


Believe in happy

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.

Four Things Tote

I. Love. This. Bag. My friend Meghan posted on Instagram about the ‘4 THINGS’ Personalized Tote Bag and mentioned to me that I might like one for myself, and when I learned more about it, I hopped right online and ordered my own! I loved that the shop it came from donates to charities with great causes (you can read more about The Shop Forward here). To me, spending a few extra dollars towards something I believe in is totally worth it, and this bag is great quality.

I had a little bit of a hard time picking my four things, because so many things are important to me! But I settled on these four, and staggered them so it would read shortest to longest (and also, because dogs). I think I’ve been pretty straightforward about my love for dogs, coffee, and school supplies, and I think the world needs a lot more kindness and grace for others.

Bruno loves the tote, too!

I love any company that has a good cause, and I’ll be sporting this baby around town whenever I need to carry extra stuff!

What would your four things be?!

2018 // Happy New Year!

photo by my talented bff j parker photography

Happy New Year! I cannot believe we are in 2018. I feel old! I remember the year 2000 when the world was anxious about Y2K; I was only 12 years old and just didn’t get it. Here we are almost 20 years later, and I’m ringing in the new year with two of my favorite people, my sister and Andrew (+ all the dogs, of course!). This year, we decided to keep it really low-key and celebrate with Mexican food and soft clothes. We watched an old childhood movie (Camp Nowhere), and we have the ABC Rockin’ New Year’s Eve playing in the background in another room for check-ins and for when it gets close to midnight. I’m thinking of what a great year 2017 was – and how great I hope 2018 will be!

In 2017, I finished my eBook with my buddy Tony and we got it up for purchase on Amazon! That was a HUGE life goal of mine. I got to start wedding plans and help find a wedding dress for my best friend Whitney, I finished and got to start out two fantastic school years, got to see Andrew every day at work, and got to teach so many amazing teenagers. Almost all of my best friends turned 30 years old, I turned 30, and some of my favorite people got engaged, got married, got pregnant, or had babies! Andrew and I moved into the same apartment complex, did a lot of grilling by the pool, went to prom together (so nerdy), I got to watch him coach his first season of baseball at the high school, we celebrated 2 years together, and most importantly, we got engaged!!! I got to be roommates with my sister, cheer her on through her first fitness competitions, had a lot of good eats, and an amazing trip to Arizona with my mom. I spent so much special time with friends and family, and the list could go on and on.

In 2018, Andrew and I will be getting married! I can’t believe it. Whitney will get married, another best friend Kelly will have her baby, and Andrew and I will go on our honeymoon and hopefully buy our first home together! Big job and life things are happening for a lot of people I love. Maybe it’s just that time of life for me, but I’m so excited to experience my own and share in joy with others!

I love setting goals and making plans, so a new year is just a naturally great time to do just that, and to look ahead at your big overarching goals for the upcoming 12 months. I have a few resolutions for 2018 and I’m sharing them here so I can speak them into existence and hold myself accountable!

1. I mentioned the Year of Cozy book in a previous post, and I got it for Christmas! I plan to make my way through it, month by month. I am not going to tell myself I’ll do everything in it, but I do want to follow along and pick some crafts, recipes, and ‘do’ items from the book! I’m really excited to work through it!

2. I plan to kick my rear into gear (#shreddingforthewedding), and work out at least 4 times a week. That is doable, and I know once I really commit and get back in the swing of it, my body will remember how much it loves to exercise and I’ll start seeing some progress! Walking, get back into my yoga, lift weights, whatever I feel like that keeps me active.

3. Get back to – and stick with – my Weight Watchers plan so I can feel better, look better, and confidently walk down the aisle to marry the man of my dreams!

4. Skincare, hair care, self care. I want to be consistent in my morning, night, and weekly routines to get in some ‘me time,’ and really take care of myself and my skin. I ain’t no spring chicken!

5. I wrote an entire blog post about my Passion Planner  a couple of years ago, and I have mentioned my shameful obsession/addiction love for planners in general and Type A personality several times on the blog. I don’t need any judgment, but I bought a new 2018 Passion Planner for all my exciting 2018 plans! I want to stick to the goals and to-dos I put in there, and create weekly grocery lists, workout plans, and whatever else I need to keep myself on track.

the year of cozy & my 2018 passion planner

I tried to keep my goals simple and realistic. I think looking ahead and mapping things out is a great way to reach important goals, but you also have to keep it within reasonable limits and make goals that you know you can achieve. I think 2018 is going to be a fantastic year, and I can’t wait to celebrate so many important milestones in my own life and huge life events for my best friends and family! 🙂

What are everyone else’s goals this year? I hope everyone had a safe and happy NYE, and cheers to 2018!

FriYAY feels!

Friyay! I still can’t believe we’re engaged and I am still just so happy and excited! My friend Lindsey got me this mug as an engagement gift. I also had a couple of students who got me little engagement gifts, which is so sweet. We are working on securing a venue and date right now, and I just signed up for an account with The Knot to help me keep track of all my wedding planning and details!

Other things I still can’t believe include the fact that Christmas is in THREE DAYS. What?! I feel like such an old fuddy-duddy saying this, but it seems like it just comes faster and faster each year (I also feel like a fuddy-duddy for even actually saying fuddy-duddy…blame my future husband for that lingo).

My Christmas gifts are all wrapped up and ready to be delivered. I won’t see some friends to celebrate until after the new year, so that’s always a fun thing to look forward to once everything else has quieted down. I got everything ready last night for heading home:  Laundry, wrapping gifts, last-minute cleaning before leaving, packing up myself + the doggies, etc.

One of the best Christmas happenings is that one of my very best friends had her baby girl this week!!! She has the sweetest face and name, and I can’t wait to hold her and love on her as soon as I possibly can. A lot of the people I care most about are having babies, getting married, and making big life changes that are all exciting. It just feels like a happy – yet hectic – time in life.

Finally, yesterday my department at school had a Christmas party and it was a pot luck. I brought my “famous” banana pudding. Everyone raves about it, so I thought I’d share it here! I actually got it from my dad’s wife Kathy, but it is always a HUMONGOUS hit and it is so delicious. It’s adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe, and I think the difference is in the pudding mixture, lemon juice for the bananas, and the type of cookies that you use. Literally every time we have a department function, everyone wants the banana pudding. Give it a try this Christmas and see how delicious it is!

Not Your Momma’s Banana Pudding

1 (12 oz.) container cool whip – this generally comes in 8oz containers so I usually just use the leftover 4oz for low fat desserts!

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

2 cups milk ( I use 2%)

1 (5 oz) box instant French vanilla pudding mix  (I can never find this in French vanilla and just go with regular vanilla. MAKE SURE it’s instant!)

6 to 8 bananas, sliced  (dip them in a small bowl of lemon juice before layering them)

2 bags chessmen cookies  (Pepperidge Farm – I always buy 3 bags, because sometimes there are broken ones in the bag and I am extra and want it to look nice…and also because extra cookies)

Note:  Of course, you can make any of these lighter by using low-fat options.

Line the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using a separate large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

There it is! The best banana pudding I have ever had, seriously. The lemon juice keeps the banana slices fresh and correctly colored, and it also adds a nice something to it. On top of that, the pudding part itself really is delectable. This time my sister made it for me while I was at school to help out – she is the best!

That’s it for now! I am heading to Andrew’s mom’s house for a night, then to Asheville with my family for a few nights over Christmas, and then I’ll be back in town to enjoy my last few days off before school starts back up again. I plan to write before or on the new year, because I have a couple of resolutions I want to share! Everyone have a very merry Christmas!

People patience

source, and a place to purchase the print!

I have always been very patient with people. Things tend to be a different story. If I’m waiting for something to arrive in the mail, for instance, or waiting for payday so I can get something I’ve had my eye on, or for a birthday or last day of school before a break…those things I can certainly get impatient about. But people? I have always had a soft spot for people and have always had a high threshold for giving the benefit of the doubt.

If you ask me, we all deserve a second chance. We are all fighting different battles that no one knows about, yet as humans we still tend to judge someone based on one exchange we have with them, or we get impatient or irritated and snap at them or write them off. As soon as we do that, we’ve lost the opportunity to learn something about that person or help them through something that they may greatly need support for.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that being a teacher is a great way to use my people patience. I am an understanding and forgiving person, and some would probably say that I give too many chances. But when I look at some of my students who come from homes filled with violence, neglect, substance abuse, poverty, or dysfunction, it’s hard for me to be a stickler about a particular due date or a quiz retake. We are all worth noticing, we are all worth fighting for, and we are all worthyTo be impatient with people is to say we aren’t willing to consider what they might be going through. We aren’t willing to understand where they are coming from, put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, or change our opinion of someone due to a new perspective. We aren’t willing to step outside of ourselves and really think hard about someone else. I think that people, for the most part, are good. Developmental psychology studies tell us that we need people to trust and count on, and that we need a place to belong in order to feel secure. We depend on these things in order to live a fulfilled and content life. So before we write someone off, or lose our patience with them, maybe we can remember that we’re all in this together, and it takes all of us to make it through.

As the holiday season is most certainly upon us, I think people need a little extra TLC. For some people, this time of year is difficult due to loved ones who have passed away or can’t be here. For others, there is the stress of having family in town, traveling out of town, packing, shopping, preparing…and for those who have families who just don’t do family stuff very well, the holidays can be painful.

We need more kindness in the world, and not just at the holidays. We need people to understand each other better. We need more people patience.


Gettin’ hitched!

We are engaged!!!

I wrote about our story/how we met a little while back, and Monday was the 2 year anniversary of when Andrew asked me to be his girlfriend. On Tuesday, he asked me to be his wife! It is so surreal to even write this post, and it has only been a couple of days, but the week has been packed and full of emotion and excitement!

Tuesday at school, Andrew told me he had made us reservations for Sullivan’s Steakhouse in downtown Raleigh, and so I was already excited and looking forward to a fun evening out together. We were getting ready to leave for dinner, and he stopped me in front of my Christmas tree and said he wanted a REAL reason to celebrate, and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I was so shocked I asked him if he was serious or if it was a joke! We were so excited and all of a sudden the shock wore off and I started boo-hooing (of course!). I made Andrew tell me all of the details of how long he knew, did anyone else know, allllll the questions! We headed to dinner and he told me all the things he had rehearsed in his head all day to say – when he actually proposed, he was so nervous he forgot everything he wanted to say! We had such an exciting and happy dinner. The manager brought us a glass of champagne, and we just enjoyed ourselves so much!

at sullivan’s after our dinner!

The ring was Andrew’s mom’s. His dad gave it to her for their 30th wedding anniversary, and with his dad being gone now, it is such a special reminder every time I look at my ring. It is beautiful and exactly what I wanted! I was giving Andrew a hard time because I have been getting regular gel manicures for months, and the weekend I decided to do my own nails and stop going to get them done professionally, he proposed! That’s how it goes, right?

Hopefully soon, we’ll be picking a date and starting to nail down some details, but for now, I am just so excited and trying to soak it all in!

We’re getting married! 🙂