A Successful Library Trip

A Successful Library Trip

I wanted to kill time in my endless day go to the library this afternoon totally forgot that my card was in our car, with Jonathan, at work. 

*Time out- this is AFTER I woke up this morning with blood all over my pillow. There's nothing like coming out of a deep sleep and feeling like you're in a murder scene. Okay, it wasn't that bad, but I was frantically trying to discover the source of the carnage and found that it had come from my completely gashed-up lip. Who knows how that happened?! It was a less-than-leisurely way to start the day, needless to say. So maybe I just needed a nice, relaxing outing. Time in.*

I ran over anyway to drop off my books (just in time!) and hoped that we could come back later. (I say "hope" because for some mysterious reason my husband doesn't really love following me around the library while I load myself down with yet another bagful of books.) Anyway, I persuaded him to drop me off tonight on his way to get a haircut and I was inspired on the way over to look at the movie section, something I've never bothered with before. 

Our local library in California had, seriously, the most incredible movie section with an unbelievably awesome selection of classics. Every library I've been to since has been a letdown, so I've just stuck to the books. However, I've been in a Broadway mood ALL day (ask anyone who saw me jamming to Wicked in my car) and I was itching for a good musical. (Sadly my actual movie collection is pitifully small... one day I'm robbing my parents blind.) Anyway, I hit the JACKPOT at the library and made myself narrow my choices down to five so that I didn't become a complete zombie for the next couple days. 

High Society, Good News, Holiday Inn, The King and I, and Oklahoma! I could die of happiness. 

If I could add to this list, I'd include State Fair, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame. You just can't beat a great musical. (Also I'm enjoying these while Mamaw's out of town since she doesn't like "all that singing." I'm nothing if not a good granddaughter.) 

AND even though I wasn't even planning on checking out books (I already have Killing Lincoln and Life of Pi waiting on my Kindle), I just couldn't help myself and came out with a new stack just like always. Now I've got my coffee and I'm bundled up in a sweatshirt and looking obnoxiously jolly: 

I'm all settled in for the night (and possibly the weekend.) The headphones are because Jonathan is has an unsophisticated entertainment palate and did not want to watch (or sing) along with me. Oh well... his loss! Here's to escaping reality for hours at a time! =)  


My Perfect (Non-Scary) Halloween Night

My Perfect (Non-Scary) Halloween Night

I've never been super into Halloween, mostly because I don't care for bats or spiders and I find even some animated movies extremely scary. I do love a good costume party, though, and I'm a sucker for themed outfits/food/color schemes. (I practically got weepy tonight in Walmart looking at the pumpkin sugar cookies I bought to make for my students last year.) 

Looking festive at school for Halloween '13

SO with Halloween it's a little festive and silly but still fun as long as it's not scary, and if I could come up with my perfect Halloween celebration it would look something like this: 

-caramel apples- I guess you could get all fancy and melt the caramel or whatnot, but I always buy those wraps for like $2 and they're fine, thankyouverymuch. Or if you're not into taking giant bites of sticky fruit and getting juice all down your chin (or is that just me being six years old?) you go REALLY convenient and buy those caramel apple suckers.  Classy, right?

-chili- my husband thinks soup is strictly cold weather food, and while I can't always buy into that logic, I do agree when it comes to chili. Try my super easy recipe if you're so inclined. Cheese and crackers on top and WOW. It's insanely good and lasts for days- my kind of food! It seems like every Halloween/fall gathering includes some kind of chili cookoff so this feels appropriate. Mine won't win any contests but it's still yummy. =)

-candy, duh- I'm usually not a "sweets" person, but come on... it's practically constitutional law to consume obscene amounts of candy this time of year. I'm talking chocolate, though, not that candy corn nonsense. I'm not against eating triangle-shaped molds of high fructose corn syrup and Yellow 5, but it's a little too sweet for me. 

-a good Halloween episode/movie-I like watching holiday episodes of my favorite TV shows since it's festive but not as time-consuming as a movie so you can squeeze more in/not stay up so late. *old lady alert!* My episode pick would HANDS DOWN be Psych Season 5 Episode 11, "In Plain Fright." Not only is this episode about a Scarefest- and it's the beginning of Shawn and Jules's relationship, SIGH- but it will always have a special place in my heart because it was the very first episode I ever watched and the one that led to a deep and borderline-obsessive love that has been well-documented here. For a movie? You know I don't do scary, so even though there are puh-lenty of horrifying options out there, I'd have to say To Kill a Mockingbird. I know it's not really a Halloween movie but it's just wonderful and it ends around Halloween, so there. Oh, and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! is a given. 

-the right costume, of course!- A few years ago Jonathan and I dressed up as Rob and Laura Petrie from The Dick Van Dyke Show, which was awesome. I really wanted us to host a dinner party and sing Mountain Greenery for the guests but refrained. Next time some friends can join us as Buddy and Sally? Blake? Brook? 

Da da da da da da da dum, da da dum, da da da da da da da da da dum. (Trips over ottoman)

This year I was totally gunning for Lorelai and Luke (ah, what should have been!) but since I planned our trunk-or-treat theme around The Great Pumpkin we went the Charlie Brown and Lucy route. I thought about being Peppermint Patty and calling Jonathan "Chuck" all evening but I think I'm a little better typecast as Lucy, don't you? =)(Also, WHY does Peppermint Patty look and sound like a boy? Hmm?) Other couples costumes could include Fiyero and Elphaba (go green!), Jack Kelly and Katherine Plummer (or Sarah, if you're a bigger fan of Newsies the movie than the show), or Bonnie and Clyde (my friend Georgette did this with her husband this year and it's adorable, plus who doesn't want to dress like a flapper? I'd like to think we could pull off a Laura Osnes/Jeremy Jordan look? Shawn and Jules? Ron and Hermoine? The possibilities are endless.) 

So, there you have it. Since Halloween falls on a weekend and Jonathan gets off work fairly early this week, I think I'll be able to put together this little scenario quite nicely this Friday. Woohoo! Stay spooky, my friends.


A Few Exceptionally Good Books

A Few Exceptionally Good Books

I've read a ton since school got out last year haven't reported on each book like I intended to. (Plus the note with my entire reading list somehow got wiped from my phone... I'm still really bitter about it!) Anyway, here are just a few titles that I couldn't shut up about. They're worth checking out, I promise!

-The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown: I read this after reading Unbroken since I knew the timelines overlap quite a bit. It's not really comparable in my opinion since there is so much heavy material in Unbroken (even though this book isn't exactly a fairy tale, for sure.) But I loved it and cried like a baby when it was over. It's the true story of the 1936 Olympic rowing team from the University of Washington. I was blown away by the demands rowing puts on an athlete, it seamlessly wove the storylines together (including a subplot about Nazi Germany and the elaborate cover-up of the Jewish oppression that had already begun), and reading all the descriptions of places I've actually been in the Pacific Northwest was icing on the cake.

-These Is My Words by Nancy Turner: I read this in August and I was heartbroken when the time came to return it. This is one of those books that I reread passages of over and over (and should probably just buy my own copy.) It's a little surprising that I loved it as much as I did, since all I could think for the first couple chapters was, "Does ANYTHING happen in this book that isn't tragically awful?" (The answer is yes.) It's the diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, a young pioneer girl who documents her life on the frontier from the age of 17 to her mid-thirties. Apparently there are more books in this series but I'm almost afraid to read them and spoil how much I love this one.... it's just a spectacular love story. I recommended it to Brook and was thrilled that she loved it as much as I did. 

-The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine: I loved this story about a young girl living in Little Rock, Arkansas, a year after the first high school integration in the 1960's. Marlee has never really dealt with racial issues before, but after her first true best friend is taken from her and she sees the ugly side of racism for the first time, it becomes clear that standing up for right is her only choice, no matter how hard and dangerous it is. A great middle grade novel (and I'd suggest Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith as a YA companion read.)

-Wonder by R.J. Palacio: I saw this book at Sam's this summer and glanced at the cover but didn't skim enough to get an idea of what it was about. Finally I checked it out before our road trip a few weeks ago and I thought it was excellent. It's hard to write about a subject as heavy as a middle school boy with a serious facial deformity, and while it has its seriously sad moments,  this book is funny and sweet. The mini-sequel, The Julian Chapter, is an absolutely perfect and poignant conclusion. You have to read both! 

-After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick: After reading Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, which I loved, I checked out the sequel about Jeffrey, a boy who survived childhood cancer, and loved it even more than the first book, written from the perspective of his brother Steven. These books have the perfect sarcastic tone (right up my alley) and since the entire premise is built on a writing assignment in English class, I had a special place in my heart for the story right off the bat. You wouldn't think a book about a kid with cancer would be funny, but I laughed my head off the entire time. Obviously Drums is the first book, but the sequel was my favorite.

-Killing Patton by Bill O'Reilly: I read this at Jonathan's aunt's house and it was absolutely fascinating. I've been on a bit of a WWII kick anyway, so the details surrounding Patton's suspicious death and all the background information about Patton's military career and the way he was treated for his rather outspoken (that's an understatement) views was really interesting. It blew my mind, all the horrible, horrible stuff that happened and the absolutely horrifying way that people were treated. Reading about this time period in general makes me feel like the world's biggest brat for ever complaining about anything when in comparison I have absolutely no concept of human suffering. There were definitely parts that were hard to get through but since it's history and it really happened, I think it's important to be knowledgeable about it. Now I've got Killing Lincoln waiting on my Kindle and I hope it's just as good!

So there are a few titles you should totally read (and then tell me so we can talk about them... I'm dying to spill my guts to someone other than Jonathan, and he'll thank you too, I promise.) 


Good Buys

Good Buys

I'm a notorious impulse buyer but sometimes even I am blessed with a little sartorial foresight (wow, that sounds pretentious!) and make a purchase that turns out to be a really, really good buy. Since we're currently between full-time jobs I don't have the same shopping budget I did before, so I've been trying hard to only buy things I really love. (I haven't been totally successful, but being on a tighter budget helps! Ha!) Thanks to selling some stuff, I've had a little extra though, so don't worry. I'm very financially resourceful when it comes to shopping, and over the past couple months I've found a few of those great pieces that have ended up being wardrobe staples and a great use of my limited funds. =)

1. Stretchy pencil skirts- I've been wanting to add a few more of these to my collection for a while since they're so easy to pull on, dress up or down, and wear with everything... and since Merrick swears by them naturally I think they're a worthy wardrobe investment. Mine are from Old Navy and through good luck and sales, I snagged the black, charcoal, and striped versions all for about $10 each back in August. I'm a little embarrassed by how often I've worn them but then again, they're awesome for all the reasons I mentioned, sooo... maybe I should be proud? (Also, a head's up... I go up a size on these for a longer length and because they're super stretchy- aka clingy which is not such a good look on some of us, meaning me.)

2. Fun flats- I saw these online at Target (no surprise there!) and waited patiently like a good girl until they were 50% off. I ordered them in the blush color (which I'm not sure is still available? maybe?) and I've worn them a TON. Since it's still pretty warm here in NC I'll probably be able to wear them through the rest of this month and I think they're perfect for spring! Also, if you don't have a Target RedCard you really should get one. I know, the whole identy theft thing- scandal!- but it's nice to get 5% off every purchase AND my favorite perk is free shipping. I'm a major sucker for free shipping. Anyway, I love the cutout detail on these flats and they're shockingly comfortable. Win! 

3. Pretty scarf- I've been slowly purging (and then rebuilding) my scarf collection over the past few months and when I found this one at H&M I knew it would be perfect for fall. I know it's cliche to pull out the "burnt orange" in October but hey... I'm a big fan of seasonal dressing. (It's ridiculous how many red and green outfits I put together in December.) Anyway, it's such a pretty shade of orange and I really love that it's with navy instead of black (which feels a little too Halloween with orange to me. "Oh, but you'll dress like a Christmas elf?" Yes, I will.) I've worn it several times already and it's a great thickness and drape and all that good stuff. Definitely a good fall purchase!

4. Awesome plaid flannel- I can't take any credit here... my darling, generous sister April bought me this shirt from Old Navy after I stared longingly at it and dropped a hint or two (or five.) She really is the best. It's the perfect weight (not flimsy but not Paul Bunyan-esque.) I've already worn it and plan to wear it again many, many times in the future with sweaters, vests, under a dress... it's awesome! I love the colors, I love that it's longer in the back, I love everything about it. April, I love you. 

The soles look extremely thick in this picture but they're not that overwhelming in real life, I promise!

5. Printed sneakers- I love that these are a thing right now because they're so comfortable and it's a little bit unexpected to wear a leopard print on such a casual shoe. I've only had these for about a week (they were $8!) and I've already worn them several times... they're an easy way to make your outfit a little more interesting even if you're just wearing jeans and sweatshirt (which I was at least once.) Check them out at Target... they have a bunch of cute prints! I love the houndstooth ones for all my Bama gear. =) (And speaking of the sneaker trend, I've totally got my eye on this quilted pair. When it's clearance time I'll be all over those!) 

Wearing this stuff in real life =) 

I love, love, love all these pieces and fully intend to wear them on repeat in the coming months. And there are a few more items I've had heavily in rotation lately that aren't necessarily recent purchases but good ones just the same, and you may want to consider looking up some similar options! I'm loving my green utility vest (it adds a layer of interest to just about any outfit), my gold flats, my dark chambray shirt, my graphic tees, my thin gold necklaces that can be layered, and my boyfriend-fit blazer that looks a little dressy but has a relaxed fit so it's not too businesslike (the cuffed sleeves help too!). Oh, and sweatshirts. I want ALL the sweatshirts, especially gray. I have a problem.

AND I've got my eye out for a few pieces that are eluding me, including a burgundy pencil skirt (WHY is one so hard to find??), black wedges (the search continues!), and the perfect blanket-type cardigan. If you see one of these things give me a holler, okay? Helping each other spend money... that's what friends are for.


This Is My Real Life

This Is My Real Life

I've done it. I've become one of those bloggers that make me roll my eyes and think, "Ugh, get it together and throw up a new post, already!" (I sound like a real sweetheart, eh?) But it's true... the past few months I've steadily spiraled further into that yucky place that makes every single thing I try to post sound stupid, and lately I just haven't tried at all. A few kind friends have asked with some concern if I'm okay or if I'm done blogging (or if I'm losing it, which is not too far-fetched), but the truth is that my sister put it best... I feel like my life has stopped. 

After four years of a very fast-paced schedule that revolved around full-time involvement at church and school, I feel like I'm in some kind of Twilight Zone. Of course we're still involved at church, but between a major shift in responsibility and not teaching, I've been feeling bereft of the comfort and sameness of that schedule, however stress-inducing it was at the time. And since now my days are mostly spent wandering around in a Netflix-induced stupor (I'm kidding! Kind of) and hoping someone will get sick so I can sub (again, I kid), it's hard to feel like even a shadow of my former self. That sounds ridiculous, but it's true. I know that my identity shouldn't be wrapped up in something like that but apparently it was. I just haven't felt like myself at all lately, and as a result posting anything here has not been that appealing. 

BUT then a week or two ago, my friend Molly wrote a post about how we're tempted to only show the pretty, organized, appealing parts of our lives online and about the temptation to prove we have it all together when, letsbehonest, is not how it is around these parts. She challenged her readers in the post to be transparent and has been using the hashtag "This Is My Real Life" for posts that give a peek into the less-than-perfect moments of everyday "situations," if you will. Now, I'm not one for airing dirty laundry online (don't we all love THAT Facebook friend?) but it's pretty convicting that I've been allowing my own emotional lame-ness to keep me from doing something that I really do love, which is this silly little blog. (Also, I know this is all vaguely reminiscent of the excuses given every other time I've taken a "blogging break," but since it's been a little more pronounced this time I thought an explanation was necessary. Make sense?)

SO, let me catch you up on the last few weeks. (If you've been following on Instagram you've seen most of this, but indulge me.) 

Since the end of September, I've been able to see a bunch of my former students, traveled through 14 states (thanks to two killer road trips!), spent time with quite a bit of family, hung out with my high school bff, visited my favorite restaurant (SATCO!), kicked off our missions deputation with four great services, met my sweet new niece, tracked down a Jamba Juice (thank you, Baltimore airport), and made it to the state fair for the first time ever. It's actually been a really crazy three weeks but full of fun (and food, it seems) and I'm glad to be back in my little room at Mamaw's (ha!). 

I'm not promising to be posting five days a week (which, actually, I've never done) but I'm accepting that for now, this is my real life, and I need to get back to sharing it instead of depriving you all of the joy that is my favorite holiday Christmas movies and outfit posts. (Snorts in derision.) After all, soon I'll be living in a new city hundreds of miles away and possibly wishing for the incredibly slow pace of my life right now, so it's best to be thankful and enjoy this season of life. And if that means word-vomiting about my emotional insecurities or whatever delightful topic that comes to mind, so be it.

In summary.... I'm baaaaaaack. And it feels good. (I'm still welcome, right? If not, don't tell me. I'm a little fragile. =)

Your reaction to my return, I'm sure.