September 30, 2013

Book review

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I just finished reading this series, Caster Chronicles {Beautiful Creatures} yesterday.  It took me maybe...a month to finish these books?  Not because I didn't enjoy them but with work and life and what not I just don't have the time to read like I did in the summer.  I would read when I got home, and before bed, and on the weekends, whenever I could steal some time.  These were all fairly long books too, so I guess that didn't help!

What to say about this series?  I liked it.  Not as much as Harry Potter {not one book will ever come close} or Twilight or any of my other favorites, but it was still a good series.  It did get a little weird for me towards the end, maybe a little too dark and witch-crafty, but not so much that I wanted to stop reading it.  The first book was my favorite, boy meets Caster girl and there are tons of supernatural events that try to keep them apart...spells, family, death, going "Dark", etc.  I love the first person voice of the main character, Ethan.  Lena got kind of annoying in books 2 and 3, and book 4 was just plain weird but at that point in a series you can't just give up!  I never saw it going the way it did, which I guess makes it a good story because it did totally surprise me.

I think if you enjoy Young Adult Lit with some Paranormal, as I do, then you will enjoy the story of this series.  I was eager to find out what happens and that is a telltale sign that I am enjoying myself.  If reading about witch craft and dealing with dark subjects upsets you, then I would stay away.  I can handle a lot of "dark" subjects, and this teetered on the edge of what I can tolerate.  The story was good enough to keep me interested, though, so I kept on reading.

Oh and by the way - the movie is terrible.  They change so much, and the ending isn't even the same {I'm guessing because they only are making one movie?} so pleeeeeease don't judge the book by the movie!  For the record I read the 1st book before I watched the movie.  Actually, the movie is what got me to read the book!  When I saw that it was coming out, I thought, "Oh wow, those books are good enough to be movies...I need to read them!" and so I did.  Bleh, what a stinky movie!

I am getting that "hangover" that us readers experience after reading a series.  I'm sort of lost and wondering what to read next.  I think I need a few days to think about the books and get over the experience.  Yes, I have book nerd problems;)  {Notice how I used a full sentence there?  Regular spaced language!?!  NOT #booknerdproblems.  I hate hashtags.  Hashtags are dead to me.  These guys agree}

Anyways, back to the series...I'm giving it 3 ears.

I guess I should introduce my new rating system.  My love for Disney and books is getting married by way of a rating system for what I read.  Here it is!

Isn't that cute?  Here is how I am using it:

1 ear= I did not like the book, I probably didn't finish it.
2 ears= I got through this book, but I wanted to give up most of the time.
3 ears= I liked this book, it was good & interesting, but I probably won't read it again.
4 ears= I really enjoyed this book and I may read it again.
5 ears= I loved this book so much that not only am I going to reread it but I am going to tell everyone I know they should read it and love it as much as I do!!!

Now I'm pondering on which book to read next.  I have about 20 here at the house that I need to read, the new Dan Brown, some Nicholas Sparks I haven't read, some Disney bios and books, etc.  I can't decided what I want to get into next.  What are you reading?!

September 29, 2013

Weekend update

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It seems the more I want the weekends to slow down, the faster they go.  Sometimes, I feel that it's almost cruel that we have to work hard, really hard, 5 days a week for over 8 hours and then only have 2 days off.  If you are like me...the weekend feels like it's barely started and then it's over.

Friday night is always a bust because I am so darn tired.  Dave & I will go out to dinner early, like right after I get home.  He usually sleeps most of the day and doesn't eat when he wakes up so he is hungry, and I am tired and ready to relax for the night.  So we choose a place to enjoy dinner, and then veg on the couch the rest of the evening.  It is nice to relax together, but I am usually asleep by 10.  Wooooo, party animal!!!

Saturday is the best day of the whole weekend.  A whole day ahead of me, an evening where I don't have to worry about going to bed at any certain time, and plenty of energy to tackle all my to dos and spend time with fam.  Love it!

Sunday is just...mean.  I mean, besides the church-going, praising-the-Lord part, which I love...all I do is worry about Monday and all that I have to do.  I really try not to, but I can't keep work off my mind these days because it's so busy!

See what I mean?  It goes by fast, and really it only feels like one day off.  I really need to start looking at it a little better, be more positive.  What happened to that Tina?  I think I killed her!

Anyways, despite it's hurry to leave me, this weekend was really nice.  Friday Dave & I went to Havre de Grace, a little town on the Susquehanna that we love to visit.  We ate dinner at Laurrapin, a cute little bistro/grille in the middle of town that we enjoy now and then.  They have great food.  Right now they have an Octoberfest type menu going on, really fun!  I love that they do farm-to-table too.  That's just awesome!  After dinner we crashed, I fell asleep on the couch almost right away.  It was barely 9:00pm.  I'm so ashamed...

Saturday mornings are always reserved for my mom.  Let me tell you about my mom.  She is awesome.   She is totally my best friend.  I pick her up and head to the Bel Air Farmers market in town to buy fresh veggies, we go almost every week!  Then, we usually hit up Wegman's for a while.  We'll scoot around with our carts and fountain sodas, trying all the samples out and buying things we totally don't need but love to try.  Wegmans is the best, they have so many things that other stores don't have and I love them for it.  Sometimes after that, we'll go across the street to Lemon n' Ginger Asian Grille for sushi.  It's sort of funny that we drop money on groceries and then go out to eat.  We laugh about it over our miso soup;)  We may head to ShopRite or Safeway or HomeGoods or Target next, depending on our moods.  Yesterday, we mixed it up a bit and went to Arby's since mom had a coupon for 2 meals for $7.99.  I forgot how yummy Arby's is!  Then we head home, we are usually tired at this point because we've been shopping for hours (about 9-2 every Sat!)  It's a nice little tradition we've got going, and especially good for her since Dad & Jonathan are usually screaming or crying over this team on Saturdays.

Dave had to work last night so I busied myself with reading, organizing the house, cleaning our deck and 1st floor and watching some Friends.  Sometimes it's nice to stay home and get stuff done.  When I have the house to myself on these nights, I like to be productive!!  I also worked on my book a little bit.  I have about 60 pages so far!  It's totally not good at all, but I am writing it all out and will go back and fix the bad parts.  It'll take me 20 years, but I am going to write it!

Today we didn't go to church (Gasp!  Heathens!!) since Dave was sleeping and I usually take Sunday mornings after he works to force myself to rest, sleep, or read.  I'm very busy, so it takes a lot for me to sit still for a bit.  I have to pencil in that chill time.  I ran some errands, sort of watched the Ravens game (boo) and waited for the hubs to wake up.  Today was my parents 40th wedding anniversary which is just so sweet and wonderful.  Jonathan and I (and Dave and Krystal) took them out to dinner to their favorite, Liberatore's, and we had a nice family dinner.  I meant to snap a picture of them tonight.  Darn.  I'm getting terrible at remembering to document life!!!  Anyways, we surprised them with a gift card to use on their anniversary trip to NYC (my parents LOVE NYC, and go a few times a year.  Who doesn't love NYC?!?!)  Oh here, I found a great pic of them from last winter when we all went to NYC together...

Aren't they so sweet?  They are the best.  I know everyone thinks that about their parents, but I really mean it.  They are both retired now and I have never seen them so relaxed and happy about life.  It really is wonderful.  Now they've been married 40 years!!!  We came home after dinner and Dave watched football while I read and then watch Once Upon a Time.  Ash came home from youth, and we are getting ready for the long week ahead.  Whew!

So that was my weekend.  Not too crazy, but definitely not BLAND either;)  I enjoyed the time with my family, with Dave, on my own (what song am I singing right now?) with time to get stuff done.  What did you do this weekend?!?! {I ask even though I know no one will answer!}

September 24, 2013

DIY Whiteboard Calendar

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Ok soooo...I wanted to invest in a family calendar.  You know, one big calendar where we could post all of our daily things like Dave's work schedule, Ashley's teenager stuff, TV shows we don't want to miss (yes, I need a calendar to remind me of this!!) important events and trips.  I looked on Pinterest and saw some great ideas.  None of them seemed big enough for what I wanted, hardly any space to write in.  Then I looked around at stores, I really love this system from Pottery Barn, but I don't need ALL that stuff, just the calendar...

I just don't want to pay $60 something for just the calendar.  No thank you!  I looked at JoAnn's while I was there the other day, everything looked too cheap or small.  I needed the perfect thing.  I have the perfect spot for it, but I didn't want to settle for just any ol' calendar.  Then, I found this...

A blogger over at The 36th Avenue made this out of self-adhesive vinyl paper and washi tape.  I LOVED IT!!!  AND!!!   It is definitely the most frugal of ideas that I have looked into, besides settling for a cheapo calendar that is NOT cute.  This one is TOTALLY cute!!  She mounted this to the side of her fridge, so hers is also magnetic (lucky) but I don't have that option because of how our kitchen is set up.  Boo...She's got a great little family station set up here!


Anyways.  I got to work on making my own DIY whiteboard calendar.  I looked all over for high gloss vinyl, which she used for hers, but I couldn't find something that I knew for sure would work for my project.  Enter Amazon.  Gotta love them.  They had this!

Hello!!??  That is exactly what I am looking for!!!  It's self-adhesive White Board paper.  LOVE IT!  For $22 and some change, I hit 'buy' and waited for it to arrive.  In the mean time, I bought some decorative tape from JoAnn's to help spruce up the project.

Today, my paper arrived and after work, I got on it.  Haha.  I made sure the spot on the wall was clean and dry...its the wall in the pic below, on the left as you head to our kitchen/basement/bathroom/pantry.  Big ol' empty space that I didn't want to put artwork in, it's too awkward with that big AC vent.  It is a perfect spot for a calendar, because you can't see it from the kitchen or dining or family room, it's sort of hidden away.  We like to put our Disney countdowns here, I guess they will have to go underneath!

I un-rolled the white board paper and cut off the end since it seemed a little dinged up.  I cut a piece that was roughly 24x24 inches.  A big square.  Then, I laid it out on the table and weighed it down with some random stuff to get the curl out of it.

After 30 minutes or so of waiting around, it was ready and less curlier.  I got to work putting it up on the wall.  I  thought I would need Dave to help me get it straight and lump-less, but I ended up doing OK on my own.

The edges I cut weren't perfectly straight, but I fixed that with the decorative tape.  That part I thought would be tricky too - but it wasn't bad either!

Here's my tape!  I wanted to do something fun and colorful, but then I realized I didn't want it to look too crazy.  So I picked the B/W polka dots because it was still fun, but more neutral then the others I liked.  

I grabbed my level for this part, just to make sure I was getting straight lines, and started taping away!  I love how it outlines the whole thing...makes it look fancy pantsy!

The paper was easy to put on without bubbles, so I can highly recommend this if you are interested in making one.  Super easy!

After the outline I got started on the calendar part of things.  Doesn't it look so fun?!  After eyeballing the weeks and days, I got to the fun part...filling it in!

Yeah, I started with October because there are only a few days left of September, and I didn't see the need to fill out the calendar just for a few measly days;)

I still have some filling in to do, but my arms were starting to get tired at this point.  It's been a long day, but I am really excited to have this calendar up and proud of myself because it only cost me $27 (paper + the decorative tape) to do the whole thing!  Now we can keep track of who goes where and when and how and all that good-to-know stuff.  I love being organized, don't you!?


September 19, 2013

To do Update!

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It's time for my TO DO list update!!!  My summer list started sort of small, and then it grew and grew as I got more ideas and made more plans.  At the end of it all, it looks like this:

I accomplished 35 out of 57 things that I wanted to do, or 61% of the list.  That's not too bad!  I mean, if it's a grade in school...ok that's bad, but if we look at it as I accomplished MORE THAN HALF of the things I wanted to do over the summer, well...I think that is pretty good;)  Especially because I kept adding onto it!  My summer was only 67 days long, so that was almost a project a day, with a 10 day vacation (Disney!)  I'm going to call that a productive summer!!!  I had FUN too, swimming and going on adventures and hanging out with family and doing so.much.reading!  It was a great summer.

But now, Fall is upon us.  In just a few days, the sun will start dipping lower in the sky, the leaves will start changing, Christmas stuff will be coming out (who else gets annoyed by this?  One holiday at a time, please!  I cried myself to sleep the first day of July when I went to Target and saw school supplies out) and the chillier temps that will drive me into leggings, sweaters and boots (it sounds cute but believe me, its totally not, but hey I am comfy!)  

So, I thought I would create a new list for this new season.  All of the things that I didn't do over the summer went onto this list, and then I added a few that I'd like to see done.  

It's a hefty list already and I'll be honest, I'm already thinking of more things I can add to it!

I really love Fall, do you?  I mean, I love summer because I have off and we can swim and go to the beach and I have tons of time to get stuff done...but I also love the colors and weather of October and November, pumpkins and chilly nights and Thanksgiving and my birthday (11/24 - I'll start accepting gifts early) and looking forward to the holidays and snow.  It's such a fun season!  We do hay rides and corn mazes and haunted houses and the Renaissance Festival and Halloween stuff - it's a different kind of fun from summer but still fun all the same.

Plus, being in school working makes me take advantage of the time I do have free - I try to make it count.  I appreciate the weekends and even the week nights, if I can spend time with family or read or write a little or get some domestic things done.  

I could do better with my time management, I still have yet to follow any type of schedule for myself, I wanted to wake up early and take walks and write in the morning and make a schedule for cleaning the house...I get some of those things done but not in an organized way.  It's like what Dave Ramsey says about money, you have to tell it where to go, not let it tell you.  Don't you just love Dave Ramsey?  I have to tell my time where to do, take control of how I use it!  That's a goal for myself this weekend, to try to make a schedule and stick to it.  We'll see how that goes;)

This week at work has been a rough one for me again, I have at work, and I feel like I am still behind trying to catch up.  I'm like one of those cartoons who starts running and doesn't really get anywhere.  Tuesday morning I woke up at 3:00 so sick I really thought I was going to die.  I know, I'm so dramatic.  But it was that bad, Dave almost took me to the ER until I cried enough to get him to take me to Express Care instead.  It was possible that I was dehydrated at that point.  It was just a very painful case of a stomach virus, at least that's what EC said.  They told me to stay home all day Tuesday (I was actually trying to go in for the afternoon) and Wednesday.  There was NO way I was missing two days of work this week so I rested as much as I could on Tuesday and got myself through Wednesday with tons of water and hand washing and lots of prayer.  So here is to hoping next week is the week I feel like I am catching up;) 

I can't believe it's almost Friday again!  I am hoping to get a few to-dos done this weekend, with some family time up in there too.  What's on your to-do list for this fall?!?!  

September 14, 2013

Finishing Touches

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After redecorating Ashley's room, I made a few updates to enhance the cuteness of it all!  I HATE the brass door handles that came standard in our house.  I spray painted all the ones on the first floor last year, but didn't want to do that with Ashley's because hers just looked beat up and old and didn't close or lock I decided to buy new ones.  I got the new ones from Home Depot, and they were about $15 each.  You could totally scrub yours down, sand lightly, wipe, prime and spray paint...but at this point I just wanted her room to be done so I forked out the cash.  You can see our ugly originals on the left {brass} and the pretty new one for her door on the right.

 Eventually, all our upstairs handles will be upgraded to these.  I like the sleekness of them!  SUCH an easy upgrade too - so why not?

This is her closet door and the next one is her room door, with an updated lock that actually works!

 Another thing I wanted to do was put up some sweet but inexpensive art.  We have ALL.THESE.UGLY.FRAMES that are just begging for a makeover.  So...I made them over!

I found all the artwork either here or Pinterest.  All free.  Yes, that is right.  FREE.  Thank you very much!

I also found these following lovelies...they are for me.  I want to put them up somewhere else in the house.  I couldn't resist free, cute art!

Anyways, I primed all the frames so that the colors would really stand out.  I lightly sanded this and wiped them down before doing any painting.  It helps everything look better:)

Remember all those test pots I bought to figure out which color she wanted for the room?  Well, they didn't go to waste!!  I used those to paint the frames.  We still have a lot of each color, so I am always looking for more things to paint!

I only took about an hour to prime and paint the frames.  I put 2 coats of the color on, so that they would really look nice.

Then, I used the nifty gallery wall trick to figure out where I wanted to put everything while they were drying.

I let the frames dry for 2 days, we were really busy that week with family, so it was a good opportunity to let the paint dry and cure up before handling and hanging.

Finally, in went the art and up went the frames.  I bought the green clock from Ross for $7.99.  Score!  The little wooden plague with the teenager rules for life is from HomeGoods and was $10.

Doesn't it look so sweet?  I just LOVE all the art!  They are all so happy and fun and teenagery.

Yes the pink looks different in every picture...I guess that's just the lighting!  Again, the great thing about gallery walls is we can always add or update the art.  Such an easy project:)

Another thing we needed was a chair for her desk.  I was going to buy one, but then...I realized we have 4 chairs in the basement that we NEVER use, they are just sitting in our storage room waiting for something to happen to them.  I had bought a light green spray color that matches Ash's colors...I can't remember what it was originally for?  Anyways, you can guess...I just spray painted one of those lonely chairs!!  Again, sand and wipe and prime and spray:)

Don't mind the weird glow, that is an outlet extension that has an iPhone charger built right into it.  Genius idea, btw.  Dave is jealous and wants one for our room;)

Isn't the chair so cute?  Cost $0!!!  My favorite type of upgrade.

The closet upgrade is working awesomely.  Yes, I said awesomely.  I can't wait to install these in our master closets!

The biggest challenge has been getting the child to keep the room clean.  I didn't spend all this time and money to see the room look like a tornado ripped through it!  Ahhhh teenagers...

I also added a few shelves above her media center for some of her pictures, tchotchkes, and trophies...

Those shelves were a cheap find from Target...I think I paid maybe $20 for the both of them.

So...I declare this room 99% done.  The only thing needed is a nice reading chair in the corner, to replace the bean bag chair that's there now.  That chair will probably move to my office at school.  I think my students will love to chill in that when they are sad or need a break!

The room has totally been transformed and the amount of space she has in there has grown a lot since we got rid of that chunky furniture.  It's a small room, but at least she's got space to sprawl out on the floor or have a few friends sleep up in there or have a small dance party as all teenagers should at some point.  That's the dream;)

I hope you have enjoyed the journey of updated her room with us!  I'll keep you posted on any other things we may add to it.

September 13, 2013

The last 3 weeks...

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Wow.  I just finished my 4th week back at work, my 3rd week back with the students.  That flew by!  It's been a rough year to get used to.  I'm tired all the time, I usually have a headache when I get home from work that lasts through the evening {I blame my sinuses, I should just go to the doctor already} and all I want to do is lay down and read, but when I do that, I fall asleep instead.  For example, yesterday after work we went out for a family dinner, La Tolteca here in town, and I got home with the intention of watch an episode or two of Friends and then starting the next book in the series I am reading {Beautiful Creatures} but 6:30 in the evening...I fell asleep!

I'm going to be honest here, I've been really stressed out so far this year.  I need to seriously relax.  I feel that I am so behind and just trying to catch up.  Shouldn't I be better than that, now that I am in my 3rd year?  Hopefully things will even out!!  I'm trying to relax and get enough rest and walk and breathe and pray...I know the stress will pass, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I will say that I have been less tired this week than I was during the first two.  That is a plus.  I've actually been able to get some things done after school like running errands, cleaning a bit, reading and writing my book.

What else has been going on...

Ashley started 9th grade...yes HIGH SCHOOL...and she seems to be really enjoying herself.   Here is a picture of her and Dave on the students first day back...

Dave bought himself a little present.  He's been driving around his moms old Honda for 3 years, and that has been a struggle for him.  So we talked about a new car and priced some out and after a LOT of discussion we decided we could do this...

As long as it was a CHEAP one (in comparison to the new ones which are easily over $40k!)  Believe me, we don't have the money to do that...this cost less then half of that!  I still feel a little silly driving it around when he lets me...I'm much more of a "blend in" kinda girl when it comes to cars and I think this one stands out more than I care to drive.  But it's perfect for him, he loves it and he works hard for us so I am so happy we found one that was just right for us:)

We named it Jacob Black.  Because it's a beefcake, of course!!  Oh and everyone in this household loves Twilight;)

I took my love of PINTEREST to work and did this...

Isn't that adorbs?  It's a iPhone with all the apps turned into reasons students can see the counselor.  My kids love it..."Mrs. Bland, I am angry like the angry bird" :)

So yes...while it's been a crazy, busy first few weeks, I'm still standing and my family still loves me even though I'm cranky and tired...and I'll just keep swimming until I get the hang of it all again.  Sometimes I have to remember that I am there for the KIDS, and if I am making a difference in one life, or a few lives, or helping a student...then I am doing something right:)

I saw a quote the other day that said "Great teachers inspire students" and I taped that up at my desk.  Am I inspiring anyone?  I sure hope so!!!  I'm not exactly a teacher, but I have the opportunity to inspire lots of students!!  This week I started my classroom lessons (I do them all year, in every classroom, on all different topics.  There are over 30 classes in my school, so that keeps me busy!) and I am reading or reviewing this book with all the students...

I seriously love this book.  Not only does it help students think of ways to be nice and brighten someones day, but it helps me remember too.  So I have 21 more lessons to go on this, 21 more times of reminding myself to be a Bucket Filler to people that I come in contact with.  If you have kids, get it and read it to them.  If you don't have kids, get it anyways:)  There are some other versions of this book so it fits for all ages.  I just love it:)

That is my last few weeks in a nutshell.  Thanks for hanging with me while I ramble on.  I'm going to go read now - did you know I love to read?? ;)