Thursday, January 31, 2013

plan 2013 update: organization.

January has been a success in terms of Plan 2013! Getting organized is one of my favorite things to do, in any area of life, so this month was fairly easy when I set my mind to it. Getting accustomed to my new life in the classroom has made his month incredibly busy, but I still made time to cross some important items off of my list.

1. Buy a desk chair. 

This was easy. I just went out and bought a desk chair. It's made it possible to actually use my desk, which is a huge step in the right direction for productivity!

2. Organize attic. 

My attic is a pull-down above my second story. The previous owners floored the entire space, which is a huge blessing because I have tons of storage space. Unfortunately, when I pack up a holiday (Christmas in particular), I just throw stuff up there and leave it. I took an hour or so and arranged the attic by holidays. Christmas got a section, Fall and Halloween got a section, extra luggage got a section, and everything else got a section. Now, I can find things easily. Voila! 

3. Clean out car. 

On Fridays, I clean out my car when I get home from school. Simple as that! 

4. Put finances in order. 

This is so hard, considering that I don't have an income right now. Basically, I'm seriously controlling my spending to the bare minimum (basically groceries) and paying my utilities. That's it. It's working so far! 

5. Get rid of anything without a place. 

I am still working on this one, but I'm so much closer! I really only have one closet left. Most of the stuff I will be keeping, I just need to organize the contents inside it. It won't be long before I can cross of #56!

Next up, exercise! Goals for February coming tomorrow. Be on the lookout! 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


A couple of weeks ago, we almost got a snow day. It was so close that every county around us got out of school for the day, but then it ducked and went south. Birmingham apparently got a very nice coating! Our school district made the correct call to have school because literally nothing happened. The point of all of this is that the social media realm went absolutely insane because the county had not called off school by 9 p.m. the night before.  The district's Facebook page updated at 9 p.m., saying: "We've been in contact with local and regional officials regarding weather and road conditions. We plan to have school on schedule in Williamson County tomorrow. Should we need to make any adjustments to that schedule, we will call in the morning." Over a thousand comments were made, most of which so unbelievably disrespectful that I just could not believe it. Students hoping that the superintendent died in a car accident on his way to school. Threatening to sue the district. Even parents were leaving nasty comments. I found out the next morning that they (PARENTS!) also left voicemails on the superintendent's phone laced with profanity.

I was appalled.

In this day and age, with the massive amount of social media that children are exposed to, it's no wonder that children and teenagers cannot comprehend the weight of their actions. They hide behind usernames and supposed anonymity but don't understand (or choose to forget) that everything they do online is trackable. EVERYTHING! If you really think about it, that should scare you to death.

I miss the days of respect.

I was raised to respect my parents, which means listening to them. I was raised to respect all of my elders, which includes principals and superintendents. I was raised to respect the rules, which means following them (even if you don't like them). I was raised to respect myself, which means not posting half naked pictures of myself on Instagram.

Being in the classroom gives me an amazing opportunity to assist parents in instilling the value of respect into their children. People learn respect by being respected themselves and then holding them accountable to it after they know what it is. Instilling respect is not a one-person job. All of us have a part to play. You are not too old to learn how to respect and be respected. You are not too old to learn how to treat people decently. You are not too old to learn how to hold your tongue. You are not too old to learn how to follow the rules.

I challenge you to be respectful and demand to be respected yourself. If we all do this, online and in real life, this world will be a better place.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

#60: take portraits with my siblings as a gift for my mom.

My brother, Will, is in the Navy and stationed outside of Jacksonville, Florida and he doesn't get the opportunity to come home very often. So when he was home in September to celebrate my mom's 50th birthday, I did a little scheming.

We haven't had a photo shoot done with all four of us since we were very young. I think I was 12 the last time -- I'm 25 now. It was beyond time to get some updated pictures of the four of us together and I figured, why not surprise Mom!

A friend of mine, Molly Peach, is a high school student with a gift for photography. I asked her to help me and she agreed and suggested a great location. We all managed to sneak away from Mom for an hour to get some great shots. Then, we managed to keep it a secret until CHRISTMAS and surprised Mom with them on Christmas Eve. Now that she's seen them all, I figured it was time to share them. I hope you enjoy!

Cross #60 off of my l01 in 1001 list!

Monday, January 28, 2013

monday menu.

I am so excited about my menu this week! The chicken pot pie on Monday is a gift from my mom - thank you! I also can't wait to try the ziti with mushrooms and onions. I LOVE caramelized onions. Sounds like a perfect match, if you ask me! I can't wait to try the oatmeal casserole - I made it that last night for use throughout the week. Look how pretty it is! 

oatmeal casserole
sliced apple
white house salad
chicken pot pie

mountain eggs
carrots & hummus
leftover chicken pot pie
wheat thins & laughing cow
spinach salad with chicken, avocado, and goat cheese

oatmeal casserole
white house salad
sliced apple
ziti with portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, and goat cheese

mountain eggs
wheat thins & laughing cow
leftover ziti
carrots & hummus
orzo with spinach and parmesan

oatmeal casserole
sliced apple
leftover orzo

Here are some of the recipes, if you are interested: 

Friday, January 25, 2013

memory morning.

On Saturday morning, I was channel surfing and found that Mary Poppins was on, within ten minutes of it starting. I had to stop and watch! I was immediately transported back to a Saturday morning of my childhood.

My parents were out of town and friends were keeping us. When we woke up that morning, they told us that breakfast was going to be served in the playroom (we aren't allowed to eat in the playroom -- what?!). We had breakfast on the card table, watched Mary Poppins, and they put cheese in our eggs - a new phenomenon! It was a perfect morning that I've never forgotten.

Sitting on my couch, I got to thinking about my childhood, reminiscing things that were important to me and things that I'll never forget.

How funny is it that my two biggest movies associated with my childhood both star Julie Andrews? I already mentioned Mary Poppins. I always wanted a bag like hers! As for the Sound of Music, it always showed on television one Sunday night a year, and it was the only night that I was allowed to stay up really late and finish something. This film is still so important to me. 

I asked my mom what my favorite books were when I was a child. Her answer made me chuckle. She said that every book was my favorite! I was fortunate enough to have a mom who owned a bookstore, so we always had new and different books. Thanks to two parents who loved books and were constant readers, I also have a love for the written word. 

I had such a good time reminiscing about my childhood, reliving so many sweet and wonderful memories. I was (and am) so blessed to have such a great family that loved me and raised me so well. I can't wait to give my own children such a magical childhood one day.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

three on thursday.

my fitness pal. the best app.

This week has been so great in terms of food. I planned some great meals and they have all turned out so well. Going meatless has been pretty easy (except for tonight when I got the only vegetarian thing on the menu instead of sushi) and I feel good. Down four pounds from Sunday isn't so bad either! Tracking works, if I can make myself stick to it. Here are some things that I've been enjoying this week. 

garlic parmesan edamame. yum.

cheerios with strawberries. the best breakfast there ever was.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

student teaching, so far.

I have been in the classroom for two weeks now and I just have to say... I am loving it!

Of course, the job does come with some stress and a lot of work, but all of that falls behind the joy I feel every day when I walk into the classroom. I pray silent prayers over each of their desks before they walk in. I wish good things for them. I pray for their families. I hope for a good day, filled with learning and joy. 

In a class of just 21, I have all kinds of personalitiess: quiet, talkative, calm, excited, thinkers, speakers, quick to act, slow to act, shy, outgoing. I have some serious lovers in my classroom -- kids who make it a point to give me a hug every single day and write me sweet notes. They tell me how glad they are that I get to come to school with them every day. Nothing makes your heart melt like a six-year-old telling you that he loves you. 

People, it just doesn't get any better than that!

Monday, January 21, 2013

monday menu.

I spend part of my Sunday every week planning meals and grocery shopping for the coming week. I start with my spreadsheet that I shared with you last week and actually choose what I am going to eat for the week. With student teaching, I have to plan every meal of my day because breakfast must happen before I get to work, lunch must be eaten at school, and by the time I get home, I'm ready to start dinner. Therefore, my plan looks like this:

Then, I build my shopping list. I go day-by-day and write down every single thing on the list. For my entire week, my list looked like this: 

Then I go shopping... IN MY KITCHEN! I go through my whole list and mark off things that I already have in my pantry or refrigerator. And eventually, my list will look like this: 

Finally, I write my grocery list. Doing it this way, I save myself a lot of trouble and money because I don't buy things I already have and I don't forget to buy things that I don't have. I arrange my list by how my grocery store is organized. My final list was just over a page long, way down from four! 

Did anyone happen to notice what is MISSING from my list? Drumroll, please........ 

MEAT! I am officially doing my meatless week, which is #24 on my 101 in 1001 list. I'm one day in and so far it's going great! Without further ado, here's my menu for the week! 

 two whole wheat waffles
sliced apple
lunch at panera
granola bar
spinach lasagna rolls

green smoothie
carrots & hummus
leftover lasagna rolls
yogurt blueberries
garlic parmesan edamame

cheerios with strawberries
vegetables soup
sliced apple
baked potato

raspberry collider smoothie
yogurt blueberries
california sandwich
wheat thins
spinach artichoke grilled cheese

special k with red berries
sliced apple
leftover spinach artichoke grilled cheese
sauteed green beans and shallots

How does this list look for you? Would you be able to go meatless for a week? 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

diet & exercise.

I know that as part of my plan for 2013, February is going to be devoted to exercise and May is going to be devoted to diet and food. But honestly, who can wait five months before doing something that they KNOW is so important?

Come February, I want to:
  • get on a regular exercise regimen that I can stick to,
  • try new classes that I've been afraid to,
  • push myself in new ways,
  • and move to the next level in my health and stamina and flexibility. 
In May, I hope to really refine my diet by
  • making permanent changes, 
  • trying some things that I've really been avoiding despite knowing their health benefits, 
  • and branch out of my normal range of food. 

That doesn't mean I can't begin making changes NOW.

Tonight while watching the Biggest Loser, I had a revelation (again). If I have unhealthy food items in my house, I WILL EAT THEM. Why is that so hard to understand when I'm at the grocery store? I have to bring good things into my home so that when I get hungry, I only have healthy options to choose from. In order (for me) to shop well, I HAVE to have a list. In order to have a list, I have to plan my meals. This is how I do it:

Planning is so important and with a schedule like this, I am much more likely to actually achieve my goals! I formatted this for the remainder of the current week and based on what I currently have in my refrigerator. Starting next week, I will publish my weekly menus on Monday. I am actively going to work on making better choices for my meals while I slowly get back into a workout regimen. 

What do you think about the schedule? Would you be interested in using one? 
Good thing I created a blank one, just for you! 
Feel free to download and let me know how you like it!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

three on thursday.

Today I am starting a new feature called Three on Thursday. Every week, I'll be listing three things. They could include something fun I did during the week, a special moment, what is currently inspiring me, a favorite thing, or any number of other things. I hope you enjoy!

sometimes, you just need flowers.

got my first card from a student and my heart just melted.

pomegranate just ousted tangerine as favorite flavor.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

good morning, good MORNING!

Now that school has begun and I'm slowly getting back into a solid routine, I've decided to refine my mornings so that they can be productive without being stressful. I always have intentions of getting up early and getting on with my day. Unfortunately, unless I have something planned to do, I find myself hitting snooze more often than not. That changes tomorrow and I'm excited!

get to flow yoga at 6

go on a long walk with Cosmo

spend thirty minutes writing in my One Thousand Gifts journal

make it to spin class at 6:15

splurge on a Bruegger's bagel

spin at 8:30

Are you a morning person? 
What does it take to get you out of bed earlier than you absolutely have to?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

snail mail.

In my plan for 2013, I decided to focus on writing during the month of October. One of my favorite things in the whole world is writing and receiving mail. I love being able to comfort and encourage and thank the people in my life by writing them a special note. In order to do that, I collect stationery. Below are some of my favorites.

Beth Hart Designs - Chevron Twist

Beth Hart Designs - Scallop Clover

Design Darling - Black Bow

Design Darling - Preppy Scallop

Paper-Source - Gold Foil Heart

Paper-Source - Macaroons

Paper-Source - Mustaches

Do you ever send handwritten notes to the special people in your life? I encourage you to send one this week, even if the first one is to your mom. She'll love it! 

Monday, January 7, 2013

a whole new world.

Today, I start student teaching. 

For the last year and a half, I have been working toward my Masters. Saturday classes, a 60-hour practicum experience, giving up my Friday nights all summer, textbooks, assignments, papers, exams... It all culminates with student teaching. 

Today, I will meet my cooperating teacher. I will see her classroom, learn the name of her students, and meet the first grade team. Tomorrow, the students will return and I will get to meet them for the first time. Want to know something? 


I've been dreaming about this day for the last 18 months. Heck, I've been dreaming about this day for my whole life. God helped me discern my calling. I chose my career. I pursued an education to equip me. I finished it, and I am. finally. here. 

Yes, I'm excited. I'm also anxious, nervous, and kind of scared. The fear of the unknown is just that, a fear. I don't know what I'm walking into, I don't know what the students will be like, I don't know how they will respond to having another adult in their classroom, I don't know how they'll respond to my lessons and my style of instruction. 

But mostly, I'm excited! 

Friday, January 4, 2013


My family does traditions well. Well, we pretend that we do. They change over time and evolve with us as we grow, but we still have them.

1. We put up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving night while watching Christmas Vacation. 
1.a. We are not allowed to watch Christmas Vacation after Labor Day in anticipation for this event. 

(This is my favorite night of the whole year.)

2. We have had the same Advent calendar for my whole life. Well, as long as I can remember anyway. 

(Katie is the only one still at Mom's everyday, so much of the burden falls to her when it comes to remembering to add the ornament to the tree everyday, but when the rest of us pop in and out, we like to add to it, as well.)

3. We send out Christmas cards every year and we hang up the ones we receive all over the house. 

(I now do this in my own home!)

4. We have steaks and stuffed potatoes for Christmas Eve dinner and it's awesome. 

(Thanks for this one, Mamaw!)

5. We go to the 11 o'clock service on Christmas Eve. When we get out of church, it's Christmas. 

(We sing Silent Night at the very end and light candles and turn off the lights and it's magical.)

6. We still hang the pickle ornament, even though no one really remembers to look for it anymore. 

(Roger did actually find it this year.)

7. We have country ham for breakfast on Christmas morning. 

(And hash brown casserole. And bacon and sausage. And biscuits. And lots of other things.)

8. We go see a movie on Christmas Day. 

(This year we saw The Hobbit, which I fell asleep in. Whoops!)

9. We have our closest friends over after the movie for all kinds of appetizers, games, and fellowship. 

(This is also my favorite night of the whole year. I guess it's a tie!)

10. We start a puzzle on Boxing Day. 

(Well, this year, we forgot. But we're still going to do one!)

Does your family have traditions around the holidays? What are your favorite ones? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

a plan for 2013.

As I look forward toward 2013 and what this year might have in store for me, I was asked by a friend what my word for the year would be. After several hours of thought, I chose balance.

I prefer goals to resolutions and after reading (and loving) The Happiness Project, I have decided to set a goal for each month, all of which will hopefully tie back to my theme of balance for the year. The point of this is that focusing on one thing for a month is manageable and it is a length of time where habits can be established. Here are my months:

January - organization
February - exercise
March - friendships
April - schedule 
May - diet and food 
June - home
July - fun 
August - teaching
September - spirituality
October - writing
November - gratitude
December - style

January - Organization

I can't start any kind of plan without being organized. I'm going to finish the project I started, which is getting rid of anything in my house that does not have a place. I'm going to organize my attic. I'm going to work on keeping my car clean(er). I'm going to get my finances in order. I'm going to make desk a functional work space by finally buying a chair.

February - Exercise. 

I chose to focus on exercise in February because the reality is that a lot of the resolution-ers will have given up by then and I'll be able to find a parking spot at the gym again. I want to get back into practicing yoga regularly because I love how it makes my body feel. I want to be consistent with going to spin class in the mornings because I love starting my day with that burst of energy. I want to work on running with a goal being participation in at least three 5Ks this year.

March - Friendships. 

The past two years have been all about me since my dad passed away and my friends have risen to the challenge and taken wonderful care of me. I've been taking classes on the weekends and working a lot and I haven't had the time to take care of them the way that I'd like to. March 22 will mark two years since I lost my dad and I can't think of a better month to start refocusing on them and balancing out the playing field again.

Exciting thing for March: Anna's bachelorette getaway!

April - Schedule. 

During the month of April, I'm going to really focus on getting a good schedule going for every part of my life. Remembering things like when to pick up my prescriptions every month, to take the trash out on Sunday and Wednesday nights, to write down when my bills are due, and to clean certain things on certain days of the week. I'm going to schedule all of my doctor's appointments and actually go to them. I work best when I have a schedule, so I'm excited about this month!

May - Diet and Food. 

I want to refine my diet and work on only putting things in my body that are good for me. I've read several different things: I shouldn't eat meat because of my blood type, I should only eat dairy in the morning, et cetera. In May, I want to go see a nutritionist and get some real, sound advice. I chose to do this in May because that's when the grocery stores are finally bright and colorful and full of good foods again and I'll be extra motivated to cook and eat healthy for the summer.

Exciting thing for May: Graduating with my Masters!

June - Home. 

Come June, I want to spend a month working on my home. There are a couple of projects that I'd like to do - finish decorating my patio, paint my half bath, maybe put in a new tile floor in my full bath, patch a few holes, and just work on the general flow on the house. My goal is to make it feel more and more like a home with everything that I do.

Exciting thing for June: Anna and Matt's wedding!

July - Fun. 

What is summer for if not to have fun? During July, I want to be intentional about finding opportunities to have fun. Opportunities that I wouldn't normally take! I want to spend days at the pool, find a great place to watch fireworks, host a dinner party, go to new restaurants, and find ways to make the normal a celebration. Also, I'd love to go on vacation sometime during this month.

August - Teaching. 

Hopefully, come August, I will be starting my career as a teacher at a school somewhere, so this one is fairly self explanatory. I'll be busy focusing on my classroom, my students, my curriculum, and the day-to-day life of a new teacher!

September - Spirituality. 

Depending on where August takes me, I hope to know by September whether I'll be staying in Nashville for a while or if I'll be somewhere else. Depending on that answer, I'd like to start looking for a church that really fills me up spiritually and one where I can connect. I want to find a Bible study or a small group and intentionally be around other people who place priority on their spiritual lives.

October - Writing. 

And not just blog writing! While that's certainly on the list, I want to be intentional about writing letters and notes of encouragement, love, and joy to the people that are important to me. I want to write thank you notes for gifts and for helping me become who I am. I also want to write lists, especially my One Thousand Gifts list.

November - Gratitude.

Is there a better month for this than November? I want to be intentional in expressing my gratitude during November. This will include some carryover from October, in writing notes and continuing to work on my One Thousand Gifts list. I also want to express gratitude to people outside of my circle - the dry cleaner that always has a smile on her face, my favorite check-out girl at the grocery store, and the people that I run into occasionally that are always genuinely excited to see me. A little compliment and thanks can go a long way!

December - Style.

Most people would do this in the spring, but I am hoping to be a different size in December than I am in April and I'll hopefully have had a job for several months so that I can afford to do some shopping! I want to work on defining my style, potentially with the help of a stylist at a store that I adore. I want to get rid of things that I never wear. I want to organize my closet (even more so than it already is). Most importantly, I want to get a pair of boots for Christmas that I can actually wear.

LET'S DO THIS, 2013!!