Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer is Here!

Summer is here, y'all!  I'm excited that I'll be enjoying summer from Illinois where it's cooler than 110 degrees, thankyouverymuch.  Here are a few things getting my summer off to a fun start!

Essie Summer Collection
If you ask me, Essie's summer collection is just plain adorable, and a fresh way to update darker nail shades.  I'm especially loving that blue color - called "bikini so teeny".

Sunbeam Igloo Shaved Ice Machine
This cutie is $24 at Target, and I couldn't resist.  Sure, it's a uni-tasker, and sure, Brent is lamenting about yet another appliance to move, but a perfect shaved ice snow cone on a hot afternoon is SO worth it.  It shaves ice cubes right out of your freezer into snow-cone stand quality.  Then pour on syrup, concentrated Crystal Light, or fruit juice, and you're good to go!

Revlon Lip Butter
I am loving this moisture-rich, shiny balm.  It's like chapstick but with summery color.  I have "Fig Jam", and it's bright and beautiful.
The Webster for Target
When I first heard about "The Shops" at Target, I put it on my calendar so as not to miss it like I did with Missoni.  I went on day 1 and may or may not have bought 5 pieces.  I LOVE them.  If there are still some pieces at your Target, check it out!  Chic and cheap.

Crystal Light Mocktails
Sure, you love a good margarita, but maybe not at noon.  Enter... mocktails.  I love Crystal Light in the summer, and these new flavors are so fun!  The mojito is pretty good - nice and minty.

Salsa Picante
This recipe for homemade salsa from Cooking Light is A-mazing.  Addicting.  Brent and I ate a very large bowl in one sitting with crispy chips.  It's made with canned tomatoes, but it tastes SO fresh!  It couldn't be easier - throw it in the food processor and press the button.  Find the recipe here.

Maxi Dresses
I want to live in maxi dresses.  I have one that I call my "pajama dress" because you can literally feel like you're going out in your pajamas and still look polished.  Most of the maxis I have are older or sold out, but I took the liberty of finding a good option for you.  Here's an adorable maxi from Old Navy for $27.  Yes, please.
Hydrangeas are my favorite flower.  I can not believe my good luck that we are renting a house with about 6 very large hydrangea plants in the yard!  My neighbor and I clip flowers to our heart's desire, and they really brighten up a room.  If you don't have hydrangeas in your yard, sorry, but you can pick some up at the store!  Here are the bushes in my yard... be still my heart.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Family Time

This weekend I went to Virginia to celebrate my sister's graduation from the University of Virginia with her PhD!  Although I wasn't able to stay for the actual graduation, I did have a great time hanging out with Julia, her husband Darrell, my parents, and my grandad.  Brent wasn't able to come since he has been in China for the last 16 days.  He got home last night!  Here are some pics from our weekend.

My dad recently turned the big 6-0, so we used this time together as an opportunity to celebrate properly.  Here's my dad with his "birthday boy" ribbon we kindly requested him to wear.

Darrell and Julia cooked up a DELICIOUS spread of food for dinner - fried venison, grilled veggies, baked potatoes, and grilled corn on the cob! 

Grandad drove all the way from Georgia for the occassion.

We wanted to do something special for dad's birthday dessert.  We decided to make mini versions of all of his favorites.  We had mini key lime tarts, mini upside-down peach cakes, and mini apple pies.  They were a hit!  I made the tarts & the cakes, but the kind people at Whole Foods made the pies :-)

On Saturday, we visited Montpelier, the home of James Madison.  It was fun to visit the house & grounds since we visited Monticello in the fall.  The weather could not have been more BEAUTIFUL.  It was a perfect day.

To round out the day, we visited two great vineyards for wine tastings. 

It was a picture perfect Virginia weekend, and my sister is now officially graduated and off to her first job! :-) She's going to be a biology professor at a nearby college!  Hope you had a great weekend too!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Prayer Cards

I don't know if it's the end of the school year or what, but lately I've been feeling anxious, aimless, restless, worried, frustrated, and all sorts of other things that don't involve peace.  I know that these feelings are just reminding me that I need the Lord, and they definitely drive me back to Him.  One of our friends in our small group, Joana, mentioned that when she is stressed or upset, she has to remind herself to go to her prayer cards.  She didn't talk about what a prayer card was, but all that week, the wheels in my brain were turning.  Two things I've never been stellar at are prayer and scripture memory.  I decided I liked the idea of having prayer cards, so I made my own version.  I found a super nifty ring of mini blank index cards at the Duke bookstore for $1.50, but any index cards will do.  I just started copying down verses that spoke to me in my daily reading, verses I've always loved, verses in the Bible studies I'm doing, and verses people send me.  I write the scripture on one side and the chapter and verse on the other.  Oh, and I use fun colored pens.  That part is optional :-)

The cards give me something tangible to hold onto and to focus on.  I use them for prayer as I read over the scriptures and pray them.  I also use them for scripture memory since they are basically flashcards.  Sometimes I study the scripture and try to recall the chapter and verse, and sometimes I read the chapter and verse and try to recall the scripture.  I know that I need the word of God to abide more deeply in my heart so that it comes to mind in stressful times and in joyful times and so that it saturates my life.  The prayer cards are also really good for plane rides and all of the travel I've been doing!  You can't use any electronics for a good part of the flight, so I keep these little cards in my hand and use those minutes to study.  What verses do you have memorized to help you through the day?  I'll add them to my cards :-)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Literacy in "The Big Easy"

This week, I got to spend 4 lovely days learning about literacy in New Orleans at a reading conference.  If you know me at all, you know that I am pretty much obsessed with learning about teaching.  I've chronicled some of my PD adventures here, here, and here.  This conference was great, and I left with my brain practically exploding with all of the conformational and challenging things I learned.  I attended the conference with six literacy specialists from YES Prep, all of them lovely ladies.  We had a great time attending sessions during the day and eating wonderful food at night.  I found New Orleans in general to be not my cup of tea (surprising? no.)  But, there was some great learning and some great food, so overall, I think it was a success.

We ventured to the French Quarter one night.  Don't worry... I was back at the hotel by 10!  Here's Jenny and I before dinner.
Rebecca, my sweet roomie for the week!
Shrimp and grits at Mr. B's Bistro
I took almost half a notebook of notes!
Rockin' the teacher bags provided at the conference.  "You know you're a teacher if...."
When you're in New Orleans, I'm pretty sure you have to eat at one of Emeril's restaurants.  We ate at NOLA, and it was quite good.  The waiters got a kick out of us asking if they had met Emeril and if they are required to say "BAM!" when serving food to customers.
Stephanie, Simone, and Rebecca at NOLA
Jenny, me, and Wambui at NOLA
After dinner, we took a quick walk over to Cafe Du Monde.

Dessert of champions

I'm grateful to work with such wonderful people who love learning as much as I do!  Yay literacy!
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