Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Birthday Haul (and Help from Swagbucks)

August is a shopping month for me. Every year I try not to go crazy but there is just something about August that makes me go a bit wild in the shopping department. It is just so easy to find great deals and use all of my birthday coupons that just makes me so happy.

I put together a little birthday board to share some of my finds and gifts I received. Chris got me a new pair of tennis shoes that are so comfortable. I'm also loving my purchases from Bare Escentuals - I've been wearing the 5 in 1 Eye Serum on the daily by itself and I just love how bright it makes my eyes look. I didn't think I would like the new liquid foundation after wearing powder for so many years but it is freakin' awesome. It doesn't even feel like liquid on my skin and it covers really well.
My Birthday 2014
Why August is My Favorite Month

As  you might be able to tell - I'm in love with navy blue right now, I just can't get enough. And I'm super pumped to wear that cozy aztec sweater as soon as the weather decides to get a little cooler.

While it looks like I might have gone overboard - I was able to pay for a large part of my shopping spree with Swagbucks! It was my goal this summer to earn enough to be able to shop for myself without feeling guilty. I was able to earn a little over $150 in about 8 weeks by spending about 20 minutes a day clicking around the Swagbucks website and watching videos through the Swagbucks TV app. I cashed my Swagbucks in for the $25 Paypal gift cards which are like cash because they transfer to your bank account. So easy!

My next goal is to bolster my Christmas gift budget through Swagbucks - every little bit helps!

Are you using Swagbucks to help get what you want/need? Or did you shop your heart out in August too? I know material things aren't the most important things in life but a little treat once year always makes me feel good.

August will always be my "treat yo' self" month!


Monday, September 1, 2014

Create Your Own Adventure: September

Alright! I'm getting my butt in gear for September - workout gear that is!

Stephanie, Steph, and Ashley have created the goal setting link up starting this month and I'm going to do my best to participate.


Not Entirely Perfect

The challenge for September is fitness which is ever so perfect for me because Chris and I are having pictures taken in October and I'd like to at least look semi-presentable.

We've had zero professional pictures taken - I mean why would we? No major life events for us here - but after 8 years and a cute little house together, I'd like for there to be at least one picture of us on the walls that isn't a selfie or include a beer can. I'd like there to be pictures on the wall period. But we'll save that for another month's goals.

So back in July I made an appointment with a photographer who I've been stalking following on Facebook since she photographed my cousin's wedding. Her work is amazing and not cheap. My rationale is that if I'm going to pay for these good-looking photos I better look my best.

Have I gone to the gym?

Maybe twice.

Have I ate healthy meals?

The Wendy's drive thru employees recognize me when I pull up.

It all stops NOW!



1. Track every meal with my Weight Watcher's app - not a morsel of food shall be left out, even if it blows my points budget to smithereens. I will also try to stay within my points budget of 26 points a day. Goodbye Dr. Pepper.

2. Attend Zumba class every Tuesday and Saturday.

3. Go to the gym at least two more times in the week.

4. Continue my gluten free diet and make healthy choices whenever possible (we've got a variety of social engagements this month, I need to stay away from apps and zerts.)

So that's what I'll be doing this month - and hopefully I'll be picture ready come October.

Are you up for a challenge this month? Maybe something small like walking a certain number of steps everyday, parking farther away from the grocery store entrance, or trying a new workout class at the gym. Get to it!

Sig

Friday, August 8, 2014

C'mon Get Happy!

After yesterday's Debbie Downer post, I felt like I had to come back and focus on the positive.

Not gonna lie though - that intruder training was some heavy duty stuff. I spent some time in the classroom today thinking about my options if something should happen and practicing locking my door with a chair - it really works!

But back to the positive. Things that are just making me happy right now:

- Snapchat. I'm new to Snapchat and only have a couple of friends I snapchat with (read my sisters and one other gal) but I really look forward to the silly snaps that come through each day.

- Gluten free living. I'm at about 21 days gluten free and so far feeling pretty good. I've haven't experienced any swelling in my joints but I have had two days of joint pain in my wrists. Which is far better than joint pain everywhere, all the time. Also, I haven't had any stomach issues for three weeks - which in itself is freaking amazing. Not to overshare but I am one of those people that has to go to the bathroom within minutes of eating most meals. Since I've focused on gluten free foods, my stomach has just chilled out and I don't find myself scrambling for a bathroom after meals.


- I also shopped at the "expensive" grocery store this week because I was trying to find a certain brand of gluten free bread and was just amazed at how they labeled almost every product that was gluten free. It was amazing! (Although after the gluten free regulations that were enacted this week, it'll be interesting to see how many labels remain.)  I'll have to take on a second job to continue shopping there but it made grocery shopping so much easier.

- My birthday is in a week! I'm turning 29 which really I don't care about, I just want to go out to dinner and go shopping. Things on my wishlist include new tennis shoes, clothes for school, and some makeup.

- Plans! Lately Chris and I have been really trying to schedule more "events" in our lives - seeking out concerts, free events, and just being with friends. Last week we went to Forest Park and rented paddle boats - something I had never done. It was so neat! We also went to the zoo.







This weekend we are celebrating a friend's 30th and Chris is participating in a midnight bike ride through STL.

Have a great weekend!
Sig

Thursday, August 7, 2014

4E

It's been quite the whirlwind of back-to-school activity around here -going to meetings, laminating things, participating in active shooter training, and planning out the first week.

Which one of those things doesn't seem to belong?

Who would ever have thought that part of back-to-school activities would include learning how to evade, escape, and engage an "active killer"? (The terminology used during our training). As the title suggests - the 4th "E" is educate - which is what we learned today.

I learned quite a bit today from St. Louis County's Finest, things like:

  • Active killers have no specific profile - it can be just about anyone. 99% of the time the active killer is known to the victims.
  • No child has died in a school due to fire since 1958, when 3 nuns and 92 children died in a school fire in Chicago. This incident is why schools are required by law to have fire drills and safety plans. 
  • Interestingly enough, there have been 15 school shootings since Sandy Hook Elementary in Dec. 2012 - "a rate of about one every 5 weeks," according to this CNN.com article. As of July 1, 2014 is required by Missouri law to have only ONE mandatory drill each school year.
  • There are many more options than just locking the door and hiding when an "active killer" has entered campus.
Overall, our 4 hour training was pretty intense. We worked through four scenarios, three that included hearing/witnessing gunfire from a cap gun - one that looked incredibly real. I can't say that I was surprised by my reactions when faced with gunfire - I immediately ducked for cover/tried to get away. With that kind of reaction with only adults around, I was left asking myself, "Is that going to be my same reaction when I have twenty 6th graders in my care?" 

There were a lot of other questions that unfortunately didn't have black and white answers. We're only beginning to scratch the surface of what our protocols will looks with an "active killer" in the building.

While the training today left me more empowered than I have ever been before when thinking about an intruder situation, it also left me terrified.

Welcome back.



Sig

Friday, August 1, 2014

How to Organize Your Classroom Using Vinyl

Disclaimer: I teamed up with Expressions Vinyl.com through their Blogger Partnership Program to make my idea come to fruition. All opinions expressed are my own.

It's August. Again.

It seems like it comes faster and faster every year and summer vacation is over in the blink of an eye.

While I'm always sad for my vacation to end, I do get excited for the start of school. New supplies, new students, new ideas - teachers are so lucky to have a fresh start every year. It's a feeling I'll always look forward to.

This year was the first year I didn't completely take everything of all the walls and completely start from scratch.

Best decision of my life.

Besides moving my furniture back into place, it was nice to glance around at the walls and feel that most decoration was done.

But as I started to look a little closer, there was definitely some wear and tear that was beginning to show.





My once pristine supply bin labels were now peeling, marked on, and just plain sad looking. While they probably could have made it through another year, it was time for a change.

I wanted something bold, big, and colorful. The only thing capable of delivering exactly what I needed was VINYL.



How I didn't think of swapping out my mailing labels for vinyl sooner beats me, since I've literally vinyl-ed just about everything in my house - front door, check. Recycle bin, check. Wine glasses, check.

Vinyl is a great way to organize your classroom because it is inexpensive, durable, and colorful.

I used my Silhouette Cameo but any craft cutter could do the job. Even with out a cutter you could print out letters, cut them out, trace them onto the vinyl, and then cut out the vinyl. That would probably take quite a bit of time but where there's a crafty will, there's a way!

How to get started...


1. Choose your vinyl. Expressions Vinyl.com is my go to source for all things vinyl. They have a great selection of colors and types. I chose their Rainbow theme indoor vinyl pack.

2. Layout your design using the Silhouette Studio software.

3. Cut and size your vinyl to the cutting mat. By cutting down your vinyl to size you are able to cut your whole design at once (in different colors) and save the stickiness of your mat.

4. Let the machine do the work and then weed (peel up the excess vinyl). Ta-Da!

As far as how to apply the new labels...


1. Gather your supplies - labels, painter's tape, and something to clean the surface of whatever your going to apply the vinyl to.

2. Clean the surface. All's I had was an alcohol wipe (from the school nurse!) Don't skip this part because if you do, your vinyl won't stick as nicely and then you'll get frustrated (ask me how I know that).

3. Layer the painter's tape over the vinyl label. I used about three strips of tape.

4. Peel the tape up, lifting the vinyl with it.

5. Press the vinyl to the surface of your object. Firmly rub over all parts of the vinyl - I used a credit card.

6. Peel back the blue tape SLOWLY. I like to peel one strip at a time because I can continue to rub the vinyl down and it minimizes accidentally tearing the vinyl (again, ask me how I know).

Ta-Da!


I think I accomplished big, bold, and colorful!

And then I got crazy with the vinyl. It was literally a "LABEL ALL THE THINGS" kind of moment.

Check it out!

ROYGBIV just makes me so happy.

Team supply bins.
Yep, the pencil sharpeners got the vinyl treatment too!
I actually started incorporating vinyl last year by getting rid of the laminated signs I used to have on the board. Those vinyl words below have lasted an entire school year already and haven't budged an inch.
No more writing the same thing everyday!

Capable, Curious, and Confident are vinyl letters, completed in August 2011

And I'm currently contemplating numbering my desks with vinyl too.

So are you thinking about what you can add vinyl to in your classroom yet? Hopefully the wheels are turning.

Let me know if you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer!

Linking up with: Tatertots and Jello and Monday Made It.


Sig

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Living Room & a Lamp

Lamps.com provided me with a product to review. All opinions are my own.

Can we talk about the situation that is my living room?

We've lived in our house about 3 and half years now and we've made some pretty good strides in the decor department.

We've gone from a random hanging light, vertical blinds, and nothing on the walls.

To this:


We've also swapped out the blinds for curtains (which you'll see in a bit).

And then we've kind of stalled. It's not that we didn't have ideas -we had plenty. It was more the fact that we couldn't make decisions on what we wanted our space to look like.

We got comfortable. So comfortable in fact - we lived with this for more time than I would care to admit.




The plastic lampshade broke off after being jostled one too many times of closing the curtains. But it still worked. So lived with it we did.

Until the nice people at Lamps.com decided to help us step our lamp game up. We were able to browse hundreds of lamps on their easy to navigate site all from the comfort of my couch.


I had a hard time deciding a midst all the choices but ultimately chose to upgrade to a similar style floor lamp with one distinct feature...
Adesso Remote Control Floor Lamp

 A REMOTE!

How cool is that? I didn't even know that was an option for lamps! I can sit on the couch and control my lamp with a press of a button. It has certainly been clutch when I'm already snuggled under the covers, ready to watch the latest episode of True Blood, Last Ship, or the Leftovers (my Sunday nights are busy).

Another thing I like about this particular style of lamp is that it will look good even when I decide to change things up in the living room - you might remember this inspiration board...


I dig the polished chrome look - so my new lamp can easily be incorporated and doesn't have to go anywhere. Win!

Lamps.com is a great site to check out for quality lighting and great inspiration. Their Instagram feed is also pretty droolworthy - definitely worth a follow if you enjoy seeing pretty things.



Sig
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