Monday, August 31, 2015

A Moderate Success

Remember way back in spring when I first planted our garden?  I'm back with an update on how my garden grew this year.  

I planted spearmint seeds twice.  And not a single sprout popped up.  

The basil did better.  We actually ended up with a few plants.  We picked the leaves and used them in pasta dishes and made caprese salad.  They had good flavor and I think we'll continue to plant basil in future gardens.  

The parsley also came in pretty well.  We have quite a bit of it.  Adam has put it in some dishes and reported that it tasted pretty good.  

The cilantro wasn't having it this year.  It hardly grew at all and didn't last very long.  It's too bad, because that's what we were most excited about eating! 

The most disappointing was the arugula.  It sure did grow rather rampantly, but it was disgusting.  It was way too spicy.  I'm not sure what made it so gross, but I don't think we'll try to grow it next year.  Not even the rabbits nibbled on this!

For the longest time, I didn't think the zinnias would bloom.  I knew they needed more sun than the spot provided, but I was still hopeful.  Just a few weeks ago, a few of flowers started to bloom.  The colors are gorgeous and the blooms keep getting bigger and bigger.  I can't wait until I have enough for a bouquet to put on our dining room table. 

And the rock markers held up very well.  We had lots of rain, but it didn't wash away the labels on the rocks.  I will definitely be using that trick next year.  While not everything turned out, we did have some moderate success!   

Friday, August 28, 2015

Grasshoppers, Cicadas and June Bugs, Oh My!

Jazzy has started a new diet recently.  It seemed as though every person Jazzy met started out saying something to the effect of, "Well, she certainly seems like she's well fed!"  After talking with several other dog owners, we decided Jazzy was getting too much dog food each day.  We still feed her twice a day, but just not as much.  

I think Jazzy has noticed.  She seems to get pretty "hangry" (hungry + angry) as evidenced by the picture below. 

Since she's cut her calories, she's been trying to fill her food quota for the day by dining on bugs.  She likes to gobble up grasshoppers on her walks.  She also hunts cicadas in the back yard.  I walked around the yard trying to find a cicada so I could take a picture of Jazzy staring longingly at it, but I couldn't find one.  Jazzy, however, found three.  They make a very distinct crunch when she bites into them.  I guess hunting cicadas takes skills that I don't have.  

Here's Jazzy hunting.  She looks like a little cow, grazing in a field.  But much cuter.  

She also likes to eat the June bugs that gather on the back deck by the light.  It's pretty funny to watch, especially since she's afraid of flies.

Jazzy's an insect-loving fool these days.  It's darn near impossible for Adam and I to get the bugs out of her mouth because she swallows them in two swift bites.  I guess it's alright for her to eat them.  She hasn't gotten sick yet.  Bon appetit, Jazzy!     

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Whooooooo Loves Estate Sales?


I was driving home from school today and saw one of my most favorite things in the world: an estate sale sign!  So, I drove across two lanes of traffic to make the turn towards the sign.  I promise I did so in a safe manner.  

After I followed the signs to the house, I walked towards the door with a skip in my step.  I was giddy with the possibility of finding a treasure.  I imagine this is how deep sea divers feel when they're hunting for gold.

So, I walked into the house and was greeted with quite the collection of owls.  There were owl statues and owl plates.  Owl figurines and owl throw pillows.  Anything and everything you could imagine...with an owl on it.  While I don't share the same owl fetish this homeowner used to have, I did find one cute, little, glass owl.  He was calling my name.  After I saw his $3 price tag, I decided he could come home with me.

I finished roaming around the house and ended up with some small foam wreaths.  I figured I could make a wreath for my classroom door or maybe one for my front door.  I'll keep you posted. 

I didn't have any cash with me, but they did accept credit cards.  However, I had to spend at least $5.  I asked them if they could just charge me $5 so I could use my credit card.  The little old ladies running the sale tried to get me to take another owl trinket, but I kindly declined.  One owl trinket is enough for my house.  Eventually I talked them into charging me the extra dollar.  I didn't realize it would be so difficult to pay people more money than they were asking!  

I was very happy with my finds.  I put the owl on my dresser in my room for now.  I'm not sure if that will be his permanent perch, but it works for now.  

So keep your eyes peeled for any estate sale signs!  You just never know what treasures you may find.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Jazzy Goes on a Play Date

While Jazzy is darn near perfect in my book, she does have one little flaw:  She doesn't do well with other dogs.  We are working on not growling and barking at dogs when we go on walks.  Jazzy is getting better. She no longer barks at the dachshunds down the street.  But some dogs still bring out Jazzy's crabby side. I don't know if she's scared of other dogs or trying to protect me or is just being rude.  I was talking about this with my Uncle Kevin, who has had many dogs.  He suggested Jazzy come visit his house and spend some time with his two dogs. 

I was always hesitant to let Jazzy be around other dogs.  I'm worried that she might get into a fight with a dog.  But letting Jazzy spend some time with my uncle's dogs was a great idea.  He has lots of experience with dogs, plus his two dogs are very sweet and I know they wouldn't try to hurt Jazzy.

This past weekend we visited my family in Columbia and made a plan to stop by my Uncle Kevin's house on the way out of town.  We started the play date out by letting Jazzy explore the backyard on her own.  She had a blast smelling all the new smells.  

Then we threw some chickens in the mix.  My uncle has a chicken coop with some chickens, which are actually very sweet.  They will eat from your hand and won't chase you around the yard like some people expect chickens to do.  So, my uncle let the chickens out in the yard with Jazzy.  I was a little nervous that Jazzy would try to attack them, but she couldn't have cared less about the chickens.  She paid them no attention.  

Then it was time to let the dogs out.  Kevin has two very sweet dogs.  There's a playful, rambunctious schnauzer named Gator and a loving, mellow lab named Anna.  Kevin let Anna out in the yard first since she was more on the calm side.  Jazzy did pretty well with her.  They didn't exactly play, but Jazzy was able to make a new friend.     

Next, Gator joined the party.  Jazzy wasn't as big a fan of Gator.  He was all ready to play, but Jazzy doesn't really know how to play.  She did more growling and teeth-baring towards Gator.  I think she was a bit afraid of him.  She wandered around from person to person seeking protection.  

Most of their interactions started with Gator trying to strike up some fun and Jazzy growling and then running off.  

Jazzy wasn't quite sure what to make of her first play date, but I think it was a success.  She eventually stopped growling and did enjoy exploring a new yard.  

She was definitely worn out by the end of it.  She slept the whole way home in the car.  (Yes, Jazzy wears a seat belt in the car.) 

Thank you, Kevin, Anna and Gator!  

Monday, August 24, 2015


More than ever, I am truly appreciative of the kindness people share with me.  It really does mean so very much when people surprise me with a sweet email or a thoughtful gift.  Kindness can put me in a better mood and make my day go better.  It also inspires me to pass on kindness to others.  

Here are just a few examples of some kindness that has been thrown my way.  

My very first job was working in the mail room at an insurance company over the summer when I was in high school.  My mom worked for the same company and had a very heavy hand in getting me the job. Judy was my first boss and was certainly a wonderful boss.  Even though she now works for a different company, my mom has kept in touch with her throughout the years.  She remembered that anything Mary Engelbreit-themed has a special place in my heart.  Anything designed by Mary Engelbreit is just so cute that you can't help but smile when you look at it.  Somehow Judy remembered that I love Mary Engelbreit and recently gave my mom some books to give to me.  How sweet is that?  Thank you, Judy!   

Speaking of my mom, she always showers me with kindness.  Her most recent act of kindness was giving me this picture.  She colored it from her coloring book (who doesn't love to color!) and gave it to me.  She knew that "The best is yet to come" is my mantra.  I will definitely have to frame it and hang it up somewhere where I'll see it everyday.  Thanks, Mom!   

Recently, my mother-law-came to visit Adam and I.  When she visited, she brought me a gift from Adam's Aunt Peggy.  She wanted me to have a prayer shawl.  The idea behind it is to wrap it around you whenever you need comfort.  Isn't that incredibly thoughtful?  Then, once you don't need it anymore, you're supposed to pass it along to someone else in need.  I will definitely wrap it around me when I have a low moment thinking about my baby or my infertility struggles.  Hopefully, I'll be able to pass it along to someone else soon.  Thank you, Peggy!   

All of this kindness makes me want to spread around more kindness.  I am making it my goal to perform three acts of kindness by the end of the week.  I challenge you to do the same! :)  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Real Tearjerker

Jazzy and I just finished watching a real tearjerker of a movie.  We watched the documentary Dogs on the Inside on Netflix.  It's about a program that pairs shelter dogs with prison inmates.  The inmates foster and train shelter dogs with the ultimate goal of placing the dogs in loving forever homes.  

Image result for dogs on the inside

Not only are dogs getting second chances, but the inmates are, as well.  To see the bonds that are made between these men and the dogs is incredible.  It is truly a win-win program.  Programs like this make so much sense.  There are so many dogs in need of homes and prisons offer lots of space to house them. Plus, the shelter dogs are trained by the inmates, which makes them more adoptable.  And the inmates get to spend their time behind bars in a meaningful way.  Both get to experience unconditional love.  

I bawled my eyes out.  I was literally laying on the couch with Jazzy snuggled up next to me and tears were pouring out of my eyes.  I found myself moved by how deeply the inmates cared about the dogs they trained and how appreciative they were for the experience.  They talked about how much working with the dogs changed them, how it gave them hope.  

I highly recommend this movie if you are looking for something to watch on Netflix.  Make sure you have some tissues handy!  


Monday, August 17, 2015

Classroom Tour

As much as I've missed teaching these past two years, I think I've missed setting up a classroom just as much! There's just something about creating a space that's all about growing a community of learners.  I'm a big believer in your environment affecting you and your productivity.  And I believe a productive classroom environment is pivotal in helping students learn.  

I had several goals for my classroom.  I wanted it to feel homey and welcoming.  I want my students to want to come to my classroom and feel like it is just as much their space as it is mine.  I wanted to reflect the wonder and whimsy that comes from reading, since I will be teaching reading this year.  And I didn't want to spend a lot of money.  Let me tell you, it is very easy to rack up the expenses when you're not careful about your classroom budget!

And so, without further ado, here's the classroom tour!  

I tried to create several different spaces or nooks within the classroom.  I have a storage nook that houses a closet and four filing cabinets.  The closet was red and didn't match anything else in the room, so I covered it with bulletin board paper and leftover border.

The next nook is what I like to call the family room nook.  It has on old couch that I covered with a new slipcover, a $5 side table (thanks, Mom!) and a $20 Walmart rug (thanks again, Mom!).  I envision kids enjoying some independent reading on the couch.  

Then there's the library nook.  This area has book shelves and reading pillows.  It also has the $20 Craigslist table that Adam refinished for me.  I'm so lucky he's so handy and so willing to do projects for my classroom for me.    

Off to the side is my desk area.  I found a $6 outdoor rug from Big Lots that I put in front of the desk and the tray I made over is sitting on the corner of the desk.    

Throughout the room I put up quotes from books.  It was free to do since I used paper that the school supplied.  It's a great way to encourage kids to read books and to cover up any unsightly spots on the wall. I also used some cute $3 wrapping paper that I found at TJ Maxx to cut out polka dots from and put around the room on the walls.  I also used the same wrapping paper as a bulletin board backdrop.       

The front of the room has a tree I decorated with Christmas lights.  Since Hobby Lobby has their Christmas decorations out, it was easy to find some.  The book page banner also hangs across the front wall.

And then there's all the little details.  Like the tins of supplies...

...and the chalkboard clothespin labels (thanks, yet again, Mom!)...

...and the chalkboard sign I found at The Dollar Spot at Target.

I can't wait to share this room with my students!  

Happy Back-to-School!  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kitchen Window Revamp

The window above the sink in my kitchen needed a little revamp.  There were white faux wood blinds that were most likely original to the house.  I like the look of faux wood blinds and have them throughout the house, but they weren't cutting it in the kitchen.  First of all, there wasn't room to put curtains in addition to the blinds.  The space was too tight to install a curtain rod.  Secondly, they were DIRTY!  I hate cleaning blinds (how are you supposed to clean those, anyway?) so I have never cleaned them.  Plus, since they are above the sink there were food bits and stains that accumulated from some rather vigorous dish-washing at some point.  Ga-ROSS!  

So, at first I was going to just replace the old blinds with new blinds.  But then I saw a very cute idea on Pinterest:  a roman shade.  I could use the old blinds to make them and I could incorporate some fabric into the kitchen.  I was all for it!    

I ventured over to Jo-Ann Fabric and wandered around the upholstery fabric selection.  I had it narrowed down to a low-key gray and white pattern and a bold, yellow, flowery print.  I decided the bold, yellow, flowery print was the way to go.  I rationalized that Adam likes yellow and the cheerful print would make me happy whenever I went into the kitchen.  Plus, it would go with the paint color of our kitchen now and also the gray color that we plan to paint it in the future.  It was also on sale and I had a coupon, so the total cost was pretty affordable.    

Once I had my fabric, I was ready to begin.  I used this tutorial from the Better Homes and Gardens site.  I gathered the rest of my supplies.  I ended up buying Fabric Mod Podge.  I figured using a product specifically designed for fabric might work out better.  It did work well, but I'm sure using regular Mod Podge would work just fine.   

It was very handy to have a video to show me exactly how to make a roman shade.I followed the tutorial pretty closely and watched it about 10 times before the project was finished.  

Everything worked out until it was time to install the roman shade.  When we were putting the roman shade in the brackets that were already on the window frame, we knocked the light above the sink and it flickered.  That lead to some unplanned electrical work.  Adam was so excited about it...

Once we had the light working again and the roman shade in the brackets, I noticed the white brackets covered the roman shade.  Whomp-whomp.

Not so pretty.  So, I used some leftover fabric and Mod Podge to cover them up.  It doesn't look the most professional, but it will do.  

The final result is pretty cute.  It's cheerful and adds a fun pop of print to the kitchen.  Plus, I was able to recycle the blinds we already had on hand.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Live Like A Dog

After looking at life through Jazzy's eyes, I have realized that she knows what's most important.  

Make sure you let people know how much you love them each and every day.  

I never have any doubt about how much Jazzy loves me.  She shows me how much she loves me each and every day.  I should do a better job of letting the people I love know just how much they are loved.  It's easy to make a phone call, send a text or write a note.  And I know it would brighten their day to know that I appreciate and love them.  

Take time for yourself.

Jazzy knows how important it is to take time for yourself.  She does the things that bring her joy on a daily basis.  She's not guilty for taking time for herself and we shouldn't be either.  It's important to treat yourself to whatever makes you happy.  

Be you.  

Jazzy's got this down.  She's not afraid to be herself.  She sprawls out in the yard to sun her belly.  She gobbles up cicadas on the deck and doesn't care what people might think of her.  We could all take a lesson from Jazzy.  We shouldn't be afraid to be ourselves.  

Go for it. 

When Jazzy sees something she wants, she's not afraid to go for it.  If she wants to go for a walk, she asks for one.  If she wants you to rub her belly, she wriggles up under your hand.  I think we'd all be happier if we went for what we want in life.  

Don't waste your time doing things you don't enjoy.

When I tried to convince Jazzy that swimming would be fun, she wasn't falling for it.  She did not enjoy being in that pool, so she chose not to go back in.  I can definitely learn something from Jazzy in this regard.  We shouldn't waste time doing the things that we don't enjoy.  I think sometimes we are all so worried about what other people might think that we forget to think about what we want or don't want. Jazzy chooses to focus on the things that make her happy, and she's got a better life because of it.  

Thanks for all the lessons, little Jazzy! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Jazzy Shows Off Her Tricks...Sort Of

Jazzy loves to perform her tricks in exchange for treats.  She always puts forth her greatest effort, even if she's not exactly accurate in her trick-performing abilities.

When we first got Jazzy, we started working on tricks right away.  I'm pretty sure she already knew how to do some tricks.  Either that or she's an incredibly fast learner.  We continued to practice her tricks while she was in obedience school.  Since then, we've gotten a bit lax on practicing.  Jazzy still knows most of her tricks, but sometimes she gets a bit confused.  

Jazzy's motto seems to be: When in doubt, just roll over.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Giving New Life to an Old Book

While perusing Pinterest, I came across some cute decorating ideas involving pages from old books.  I thought these ideas would work perfectly in my classroom.   

justem:madamecupcake:laboomeria – ah, two of my fave loves [stars and newsprint]                      DIYDictionaryBuntingBrooklynLimestone
Source                                                                        Source

So, I headed off to the thrift store by my house in search of old books.  I found two old books that would do the trick.  I also picked up some jute at Hobby Lobby.  

To make the stars, I made a star template out of some cardstock.  Then, I ripped out pages from the book.  (I felt a little guilty for destroying a book, but I got over it.)  I used the template to trace out stars on the book pages that I ripped out.  I held several pages together so I could cut several stars at one time. Once I had the stars cut out, I cut lengths of jute.  Next, I stapled two stars together with the jute in between them.  I figured once they were hung up, you wouldn't even notice the staples.  Plus, stapling the stars on the jute took a lot less time than gluing or taping would have taken.  

Here they are all hung up.  Pretty cute!  

To make the banner, I cut triangles from some ripped out pages.  Again, I held several pages together so I could cut out more than one triangle at a time.  Once I had my triangles cut out, I cut a length of jute long enough for the length of the wall in my classroom.  Then, I simply used a piece of masking tape to attach each triangle to the jute.  

Here's the banner!  

Pretty easy and pretty cheap!