Friday, July 8, 2016

Five on Friday

Happy Friday! I'm joining up with April at A. Liz adventures for Five on Friday for the first time today! Head on over to her blog to join!

1. First things first- this link. 

50 different pasta salad recipes! Yes, you read that right I said 50. And they all look delicious! Some of them would definitely be more indulging but most look actually pretty healthy especially if you use whole wheat pasta or even subbed in quinoa and I can't wait to test out a few. Just to give you a little sneak peek.... in order from left to right- avocado pasta salad, southwestern black bean pasta salad and a tzatziki pasta salad. How delicious do those look?!

2. One of my friends shared this with me and it has been a game changer on busy days! It's a 15 minute workout! 15 minutes-that's it. I calculated it and it is only 1% of my day. I squeeze it in while dinner is cooking or before a shower in my bathroom. It's my go to on a day where a longer workout just isn't happening.
Burpees- 30 sec
Plank- 60 sec
High Knees- 30 sec
Lunges- 60 sec
Mountain Climbers- 30 sec
Leg Lifts- 60 sec
Squat Jumps- 30 sec
Wall Sits- 60 sec
Speed Skaters- 30 sec
Calf Raises- 60 sec

Complete and Repeat
(Let me know and I'm happy to clarify any of the exercises)

3. Speaking of getting a workout new favorite exercise trick is my energize drink. I drink it 30 minutes before my workout and it gives me so much more energy! I've also been known to drink some before needing to clean my house or at 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon when I have things to do but all I really want to do is nap- is that just me?

About to get my workout on after my energize!

4. Did you know Walmart has super cute workout clothes? I found the cutest workout tanks and tees there! I find it hard to spend a lot of money of something that's going to get all sweaty anyway so I love that they're inexpensive and the fact that they're super cute is a bonus! 
I may have now worn this shirt more times than most of my much fancier shirts combined! Love it!! 

5. I'm getting started with the facebook health and fitness accountability group I run and I shared my goals with them tonight. In my mind the more accountability I have the better when it comes to meeting these goals so I'd like to share them with you here as well and I'll keep you posted on my progress over the next 21 days!
What I'll be working on:
- working out at least 5 days a week so 15 of the 21  days (hoping to kick this goal's booty and do even more!)
-limit myself to 1 soda/week --> Diet coke is still a weakness of mine even thought I know it's bad for me (it's just so delicious) so this goal is going to be a challenge but I'm committed!
- drink more water!! They say you should determine how much water to drink by cutting your weight in half so that will be my goal each day.

Hope you enjoyed my "fit friday" for this five on friday! 

PS. If you want to set your own goals and join me and my group you can find me on facebook at I'd love to include you! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Linking up with the Hodgepodge

I'm linking up with my mom's blog today to participate in the weekly hodgepodge questions! Head on over to her blog to join in the fun!

1. How did you welcome the month of July, and tell us one fun thing you did to celebrate the 4th. (or the weekend for any non-USA residents playing along today)

The weekend of the 4th G and I hung out on the lake with some of our sweet friends and their family. We went for a boat ride, floated in the water and her dad put on a killer fireworks display! It was so relaxing and just what I feel like a holiday weekend should be. 

On the actual 4th we headed back to my apartment and spent the afternoon and evening resting and recovering and me feeling very sunburned! 

2. Right now..what's your favorite red thing? white thing? blue thing? 

Red- Cherries- I love eating as much fruit as possible in the summer and the delicious sweet red cherries I bought at the store the other day are absolute delicious and to me taste like summer. 

White- This is a tricky one- the pages of all of the books I've been reading? I've been using my summer time off well and making my way through lots of good reads! 

Blue- Bluberries!! I'm sensing a fruit theme...I love blueberries and eat them by the pint and I just can't get enough! 

3. Wave the white flag, raise a red flag, fly your freak flag...which 'flag' have you flown most recently? Explain. 

4. According to Cond Nast Traveler these are the seven best places to visit in July-

a boat safari in Botswanna's Okavango Delta, Riviera Maya Mexico (it's whale shark season and apparently you can swim with them), Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, Pamploma Spain, St. Petersburg Russia, the Fuji Rock Festival at Mount Naeba Japan, the Salzburg Festival in Salzburg Austria

If time and money weren't factors would you want to see any/all of these? Which would you most like to see and why? 

There are several I would want to see! I have a hard time picking which I want to see most. Anyone who knows me knows I love sharks so I'd have a hard time passing up an opportunity to swim with whale sharks. However, a safari is on the top of my bucket list in terms of travel so I would love to do the boat safari too! So if time and money isn't a factor then both it is :) 

5. Grilled cheese, pimento cheese, or mac and cheese...your favorite from the cheesy treats listed? 

Oh gosh, one hard question after the other. Cheese is my love language. If something has cheese in it, I will eat it. If there is no cheese involved in a meal, I feel like the meal was incomplete. I think I would have to say pimento cheese...I love a good southern pimento cheese. However I prefer mine thicker more like a dip rather than super combined like a spread. But I can't ever turn it down! 

6. What makes you sweat? 

Running late....I hate being late and if ever I'm running late- which is very rare- it stresses me into a sweat! Oh and exercise :) 

7. Your favorite movie with a 'patriotic' theme of some sort?

I love The Guardian- which is about the U.S. Coastguard. I also love Saving Private Ryan. Oh and National Treasure- which may not initially seem super patriotic but I think it's got that feeling. 

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

I determined today I have 35 more days until I report back to work...

On one hand I am very excited for my new kindergarten adventure and then on the other I'm wishing summer could just last forever and ever. 

So I'll be soaking up all that summertime while it lasts! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Recipe Wednesday

I'm always on the lookout for new healthy recipes that still taste delicious and aren't boring or bland. I recently tried a new recipe and wanted to share for those of you out there also looking for those delicious healthy recipes. Overall it was a success- there are a couple things I'll want to tweak or remember for next time but lucky for you I'm going to share those here too.

Sweet Potato Kale Hash
Topped with a Poached Egg

I like to gather all of my ingredients ahead of time so that everything is ready for me as I need it. So I grabbed my kale, sweet potatoes, shallots, red pepper, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, olive oil and eggs.

The original recipe called for frozen kale but it was much more reasonably priced to buy it fresh at my grocery store- but I'm sure the frozen would have been fine. Now I need to pause for a moment to talk about the kale. This was the first time EVER that I had tried kale and I have been so skeptical up to this point. I've always held my ground saying that kale is a garnish for the side of your plate not something to be eaten. As I've made my move towards healthier, clean eating kale comes up a lot and so I've been looking for a recipe that I thought seemed yummy enough that it would be a good time to try my first kale. This seemed like a winner because I love breakfast food and that idea of sweet/salty that I thought you might get here so I went for it. We'll come back to my final thoughts on kale later ;) 

I went ahead and diced my potatoes, shallots and red pepper all in similar size- it's a hash so you want all your pieces to be close in size so things cook around the same amount of time and all get
properly cooked. I went for a smaller dice to cut down on how long I would need to cook the potatoes but that's a personal choice. After things were diced I went ahead and threw the potatoes, shallots, pepper and spices into a skillet with some oil in it over medium high heat and let them get cooking.

The original recipe has the kale (if using fresh instead of recommended frozen) going in the skillet in the last five minutes. Being a kale newbie I felt like that wasn't going to be enough time to get soft enough for me since kale is so thick and tough so I cooked it in it's own skillet for about 7 minutes in some olive oil and lemon juice while I was cooking the potato mixture- and then still added it back in for the last 5-7 minutes of potato cooking.

After everything had mixed together I had a genius idea of what this recipe needed...MAPLE SYRUP!
I know, I know- inspired! It seemed like just the thing to tie everything together, really bring out the warmth that the cumin was bringing to the dish and caramelize those potatoes a little bit. So I added in about a tablespoon or 2 of maple syrup. I didn't measure it so it would just be to taste.

The last step of the process was to poach my eggs- I chose to do two eggs since this was my dinner but again personal preference. I used my egg poacher and my eggs were a little over done but still delicious. And voila!

So my final thoughts? The flavor was wonderful, I loved the warmth of the cumin with the sweetness of the syrup. The runny egg yolk mixed with the potatoes? Delicious! Then there was the kale- overall it wasn't bad and I did eat it. But...if I were making this again which I definitely will I think I'll be swapping out the kale for some spinach instead. Still has loads of nutritional value but to me its much more appealing. 

I hope you enjoy! If you try it please comment to let me know what you think. Recipe is below as well as a link to the original.

2 mediums sweet potatoes- peeled and cut into small dice
1 large or 2 smaller shallots- finely diced
1/4 of a red bell pepper - small dice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper
1-2 Tablespoons maple syrup (personal preference)
Olive Oil
1-2 cups of kale

1. Heat a skillet over medium high heat with about 2 tbsp of olive oil. 
2. Throw in your diced potato, shallot, pepper as well as all of the spices- let cook for about 15-18 minutes 
3. Meanwhile finely chop the kale and put it in a separate skillet with some olive oil and lemon juice - cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes until wilted and softened
4. Mix kale in with the potato mixture for the last 5-7 minutes of cooking
5. Add in maple syrup if desired and cook mixture until potatoes are tender
6. While the mixture is finishing cooking- poach your eggs (could also do fried)
7. Put mixture on a plate and top with eggs

8. ENJOY! 

Original Recipe:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It's Summer!!

So after jumping back onto the blogging band wagon I slipped off a little bit as the end of the school year really caught up with me. The end of the year is such a busy time filled with a million fun things to do with the kids but also a million not so fun things to do to wrap up the year. Yes we get field day and beach day and game day but we also get reading benchmarks, permanent records and report cards.

Oh and did I mention I had to pack up my entire classroom and move it to the opposite end of the building? I am officially going to be teaching kindergarten next year (after being in 3rd grade for 3 years) and while I am very excited about the change the kindergarten hall is about as far from my old room as possible so it was a bit of a task to pack up my things and get them moved down there. I definitely got my workout in on those days!

After all of this business summer break officially began and I could not be more excited. I was very ready for the much needed rest and have already really enjoyed my time off. I decided that this summer I was going to be intentional about relaxing and resting. Having to plan out relaxing may seem silly and frankly counterproductive but for me I have to remind myself that it's ok to just relax and rest.

So the month of June? No school work. No prepping for next year. No classroom crafts. I'm even avoiding the education section of pinterest.
Seriously- this is a thing and is not going to part of my relaxation routine.
Instead I'm focusing on saying yes to the fun things around me. Last minute plans with a friend? Absolutely. Getting a snow cone in the middle of the day just because? You bet. Mani/pedi with my mom? Of course! Plus plenty of time out by the pool with a good book.

Teaching is a tough profession. It is tough physically, mentally and emotionally so the summer is an important time to rest and renew so that I will be ready for those sweet little faces that will greet me in August.

Now accepting book recommendations in the comments :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hanging out with the Hodgepodge

1. What's the last thing you did that could be described as 'taxing'?

My taxes? They felt much more taxing than in previous years but I now feel that they are aptly named :)

2. If you could plant a garden of anything, what would be in it?
Ready made lunches for every weekday. I hate getting my lunch ready and if I could just pick it out of my garden I'd be a happy camper! And come to think of it- I would also describe making my lunch as taxing as well!

3. April 10-16 is National Library Week...will you celebrate with a visit to your nearest library? When did you last make a trip to the library? What are you reading right now? What's one title on your want-to-read list?

I haven't been to the local library in a while- and probably won't go this week either. I'm more of a bookstore person than a library. Although my students visit our school library every week does that count? I'm currently reading "Looking for Lovely" by Annie Downs and I can't say enough good things about it or about her as a writer! Once I'm into summer and have more time for pleasure reading I'd like to read "The Girl on the Train"- I heard it was a good one!

4. Share a saying or an old wives tale you heard while growing up, you believed to be true or that you paid attention to 'just in case'?

Not sure if this is considered an old wives tale- but every Christmas my family hides an ornament that is a pickle and my sister and I go look for it- whoever finds it is supposed to have good luck that year. It is supposed to be hidden on the tree but as we grew up it moved from the tree to all around the house. I used to take that pretty seriously- and who am I kidding, I still really hope I find it each year, even as an adult.

5. Are you a fan of onions? Garlic? Ginger? What's a dish you love that contains one, two or all three items listed?

All of the above! The smell of onions cooking in butter is one of my favorites. I recently made a salad that had ginger in the dressing and it was delicious! Check back later in the week for the recipe!

6.  Where does nurturing end and indulging begin? What are some skills or qualities you think a person needs to possess in order to be viewed as mature?

I'm not sure if this really fits with this question but a friend and I were speaking recently about students who cry to get what they want, when they don't get it right away. She has a little boy and said she even works hard to help him, even as a toddler understand that crying is not how we get what we want. My opinion is once a person (or a child) understands general right/wrong principals, giving in to crying is more indulging than nurturing. Of course that is just one aspect of this question I guess. I think in order to be viewed as mature a very important quality needed is to be willing to accept responsibility for your own actions. I tend to view people who make excuses or try to pass blame as more immature.

7. What leading figure in any field would you like to hear speak, and why?

I'm not sure if she counts as a leading figure in her field and I have heard her speak once before but it would be the author I mentioned above Annie Downs. I only got to hear her for a short speech and after reading 2 of her books and in the middle of the third I am dying to hear more. I feel like I connect with her so well and her words resonate deep in my soul. That is the kind of person I want to hear speak.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Have you tried the Peach Green Tea Lemonade from Starbucks? It is the most refreshing, delicious treat and I highly recommend them on lazy Saturdays as pictured below or a busy afternoon or anytime at all! 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Break Life

I am in full spring break mode around here and loving every minute of it. I have a lot of recap and this post is definitely a full one so I hope you're ready for lots of words and of course lots of photos! On Friday my parents and I loaded up and made the drive to Townsend, TN in the smokies, which is without a doubt one of my favorite places on earth. There is something so calming and peaceful about it and it always fills me with wonderful memories. We were there to have a big family celebration of my grandmother's 80th birthday. All of her children and grandchildren in one room makes her a very happy lady. My boyfriend (who we'll call G) made his way over Saturday and after some time relaxing around the house we gave my grandmother the sweet gift we had all worked to create. A scrapbook filled with a few pages from each of us.
As you can see, she was definitely surprised and touched by the gesture. Many tears ensued as she read through each page. We had also prepared a video message for her which led to some more tears but also some laughs. I have to tell you guys that I am so very blessed with all of my family members but this woman here is such a gift to all of us. 

Sunday called for Easter church service and a delicious lunch. Who else feels like when they're with family it is like one long meal? No? Just my family? Ok, moving on!  I had gotten myself a new dress and a shoes- because why not? So of course we needed some pictures! 
I think we clean up well! 

Everyone was clearing out Monday but G and I stuck around a little longer to do a little hiking. We got to see some gorgeous sites and really enjoy the smokies. We even saw a little wildlife- no bears much to our disappointment but we did see a pretty cool lizard which I may have thought was fake and tried to pick up only to discover I was very mistaken. 


G had planned a little spring break getaway for us so instead of heading back to Greenville we made our way to Asheville. We decided to take the scenic route on the parkways and we were not at all disappointed with our decision. It may have taken a little longer to get there but it was the most gorgeous day with the most beautiful views. AND as we were going through Cherokee we even got to see a group of elk! It was like they were playing follow the leader! 

They're a little hard to see but they're back there!
We did finally make it to Asheville and after getting cleaned up we headed to a late dinner at a local place G had found. It was definitely a hole in the wall but the most delicious meal. They have a lot of small plates so after a delicious appetizer of pork dumplings we shared three of the small plates. Our favorite was the beef tenderloin tartare- a dish so delicious I can't even do it justice by describing it but if you are ever in Asheville do yourself a favor and check this place out! 
Image Source
Tuesday was set aside as our Biltmore day. Neither of us had been so we were excited to be tourists and check it out. It is a beautiful house and the grounds are spectacular! They're currently displaying wedding dresses from film in the house which was also a highlight in my opinion- G may have a different view on that though ;)

Everything was so ornate- I loved
that almost every room had a different ceiling 

Walking around the grounds was my favorite part and we were lucky enough that many things in the gardens were blooming. We wandered, sat on the bench to people watch, took pictures and just enjoyed each other's company.
After touring the house and grounds we headed over to the historic Biltmore Village to check out the winery and do some wine tasting. We made friends with the couple next to us and enjoyed samples of all the wines they were offering. I definitely don't have a refined wine tasting palate and find them all to taste very similar but it was fun anyways!

After our wine tasting we were ready to do some more exploring of the local cuisine. We checked out a local brewery where we enjoyed our beer while sitting outside and doing some people watching. Then we headed to a local taco place that to me is the kind of place that might be featured on Diners, Drive ins and Dives. It was another little hole in the wall spot but with the most delicious food. Tacos made with creative and fresh ingredients. We stuffed ourselves with yummy tacos and local beer and enjoyed our date night out in Asheville. 

We finished out our trip on Wednesday deciding to stop at Sierra Nevada brewery on our way home for lunch. Well we ended up spending almost 3 hours there. What a fun place! 

The food was yummy,  beer selection great and the atmosphere was so relaxing. After our lunch we headed out back to walk around and play some corn hole- an absolute favorite of G's. He beat me all three games but it was fun. Now that I'm home I'm left with the idea of unpacking but that can wait. Today is all about catching up and relaxing, soaking up every minute of spring break that  I can! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lessons Learned

Teaching has been everything I thought it would be but also a million things I didn't. They try to prepare you as best they can when you're in school and I was blessed to attend a school that provided me with over 200 hours of classroom experience before I began my teaching career. Yet still, each day I find myself learning more and more things about teaching as a profession and about myself as a teacher. So I thought I'd share a few of those here!

1. You can never have enough school supplies. Ok I admit it. I am a school supply hoarder. Do you mean to tell me I don't need 10,000 colorful pens or a million post-it notes? Because I most certainly do. I try to clean my desk out every year and you would think I've had these school supplies my whole life the way I refuse to part with them.

2. Organization will save your life...well your sanity anyway. I am the first to admit that my home may be a little disorganized and I may leave clothes on my closet floor and mail out on the table and I have definitely been know to leave dishes in the sink. But when it comes to my classroom organization is something I work very hard to maintain. Being organized helps my classroom run smoothly, keeps me from losing my mind and therefore makes my day much more pleasant. 

3. Patience is a virtue- my mom used to say this to me and I still have to say it to myself all the time. There are plenty of times where I am not patient but I work hard at it everyday and I apologize when I lose my patience with my sweet babies.

4. That brings me nicely to my next point- as an adult sometimes it is tempting to feel like we HAVE to be right all the time and don't want to admit to children that we were wrong. Especially as a teacher I think there is a worry that if I admit fault in something I may end up losing control of my class. This isn't true- and what I've learned is, that when I let my students see me as human- as someone who makes mistakes they are so much more likely to respect me and work with me. 

5.You need to take time for you. Teaching is unbelievably draining. And it is draining in every way possible. It is physically demanding. You are on your feet, running around, up and down off the floor and don't have time to really even use the restroom let along rest. It's also mentally draining needing to be on your toes while teaching, thinking on your feet to make last minute lesson plan adjustments as you see your students' minds working. Finally though it is emotionally draining- your students need so much from you and you become not only a teacher but also a mentor, counselor, custodian, nurse, mediator and a million other things. 22 little people need something from me every minute of the day and I love giving them every ounce of energy I have but it means I HAVE to take a little bit of time for me- when I get home or the weekends or whenever I can. When you give so much of yourself to others you have to refuel. 

Here's a bonus one!
Finally- teaching is without a doubt the best job there is. Even on the days where I feel like I want to cry (or really do cry) I am still so thankful for the sweet children that I have been blessed to work with and that I have a job that allows me the opportunity to be the bright spot in their lives.