Friday, January 30, 2015

Five Things Friday

TGIF! I have had a great week, but it's been a bit strange because of scheduling and a bit of wild weather. I spent Monday and Tuesday at home because of the snow. A fast moving clipper caused the cancellation of Thursday's after school activities. So I've been hunkered down at home for part of the week and started a brand new semester at school on Wednesday.

Here are five things that are in my life or on my mind this week.

What I'm reading...Little Golden Books: I love the iconic Little Golden Books and always purchase them as gifts for babies, children, and adults. But these delightful books aren't just for children anymore and will thrill adults of a certain age who grew up reading Little Golden Books. I picked up a few copies of this book, Everything I Need to Know About Love I Learned From a Little Golden Book, for Valentine's Day gifts.

everything i need to know about love i learned from a little golden book

What I'm cooking...Crock Pot Cooking: With several days at home and lots of snow in the forecast, I craved comfort food and sweet treats this week. My slow cooker was on heavy rotation with delicious meals like chili and macaroni and cheese. I also baked up a storm. If I had to be at home, I decided that I was going to make the house smell delicious during my temporary weather-induced hibernation!

slow cooker macaroni and cheese

How I'm pampering myself...Happy Toes: Who says that pedicures are only necessary in the summer? A relaxing pedicure and happy pink polished sandal ready toes in the middle of winter puts a smile on my face and is an instant mood booster.

Jack Rogers sandals pink and green
Jack Rogers Sandals
What I'm organizing...Murfee Scarves: Over the past few years, I've collected quite a few Lilly Pulitzer Murfee Scarves. In the mornings, I scrambled to find a scarf in the large dresser drawer where I kept them, carefully matching the colors in the semi-darkness while my husband was still asleep. This week, I organized some of my favorite scarves to hang in my closet, where I clearly see them. My girls inherited some scarves that I took out of my rotation. Needless to say, Natalia and Alexia are thrilled.

lilly pulitzer murfee scarf

What is playing on repeat in my car...Uptown Funk. This song will make you want to dance, even if you don't like to dance. The lyrics are fun and the song is a retro-inspired gem that people of all ages enjoy.

Have a wonderful Friday!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Spring Lilly Pulitzer + Valentine's Classroom

Spring is in the air! The newest collection from Lilly Pulitzer Spring 2015 is now available online! Today I'm sharing some of my favorite items that you can wear now.

The Palmetto Dress is quickly becoming one of my favorite dresses. The soft cotton material is easy to wear in any season, looking great now with tights and boots and as a perfect transition piece in warmer spring weather. Like most other Lilly t-shirt dresses lately, I sized up in this to a medium.

lilly pulitzer palmetto dress spring 2015

Another fantastic piece that you can wear now is the Iona Top. I already have a few of these in my wardrobe and love them. This wear-to-work piece is incredibly versatile and is a perfect choice to wear with a cashmere sweater and pants or jeans.

lilly pulitzer iona shell spring 2015

Another one of my perennial favorites from Lilly Pulitzer is the Sarasota Tunic. I try to only buy one item in each print, but I'd make an exception for the In The Vias print for spring because it's available in the navy (like the Palmetto dress) and in this delightful multi-colored print. The Sarasota tunic fits true to size and is a little bit longer in length, pairing nicely with jeans now, capri pants and shorts later.

lilly pulitzer sarasota tunic spring 2015

My favorite item is available for pre-order from your favorite Lilly Pulitzer store. The Briella dress  is a stunning choice for spring. I love the update this year with the lace trim neckline on the blue and white print.

lilly pulitzer briella dress spring 2015

Things went so well yesterday at school and I'm looking forward to a good semester with my new students. I decorated the door of my classroom with conversation hearts in Spanish. It's a fun twist on a classic theme and students enjoy learning terms of endearment in Spanish.

spanish teacher door decoration

Have a wonderful day!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Teen Birthday Sleepover + "First" Day of School + OOTD

Recently, I shared some of the details from my daughters' 13th birthday party. I hosted a sleepover for ten teenage girls in my house. After dinner, the girls went into the family room to watch a few movies. While the popcorn was popping, party guests enjoyed candy and other treats. I packaged the candy in individual containers for easy serving (and eating!) The containers are actually salad dressing cups and are the perfect size for candy and the cupcake with the lollipops is a flower vase. The Lilly Pulitzer Juice Stand print served as the background for all of the printable items.

Cupcake Flower Vase //  Candy Cups
When the girls started to plan their birthday party, one of the most important things we had to do was choose movies that were entertaining, yet appropriate for young teenage girls. Although there are many movies that I allow the girls to watch, I chose relatively "tame" movies because I want to respect the wishes of the other girls' parents. The girls watched Legally Blonde, Aquamarine, and Sleepover. One of my high school students recommended Sleepover and it was the favorite movie of the girls. They laughed hysterically throughout the movie.

Another fun activity was a DIY "photo booth" that I had created. Natalia and Alexia compiled some of their favorite hats, scarves, and costumes for props and put them in a bin. I hung a curtain across the large hallway entrance propped with a curtain rod. The girls posed for pictures wearing the props! So much fun.

I heard lots of giggles and chatter throughout the night, although the girls did go to sleep around 3 in the morning. The next morning, the girls enjoyed a delicious breakfast before going home. The "goodie bag" from the party was a monogrammed insulated pink party cup filled with a Lilly Pulitzer coin purse, a face mask, lip gloss, and some candy.

Pink Party Cup
On another note, today is a special day for me. At the school where I teach, students take four classes per semester. Today is the first day of the new semester. I'm looking forward to meeting my new students and getting another start to the school year with another "first" day of school. The spring semester is always a bit of a challenge because I teach AP Spanish, which is incredibly rigorous for both me and my students. The effort is always worth it.

One of my favorite songs from The King and I is "Getting to Know You," sung by Anna, who is a teacher.

After yesterday's snow day, it's still quite cold here, so I'm staying warm in a few layers for my outfit of the day.

teacher blogger teacher style first day of school

Wish me luck on my first day!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Elephant in the Room

Elephant in the room: an obvious major problem or issue that people avoid discussing or acknowledging (Merriam-Webster)

Sometimes you don't want to ignore an elephant in the room. I love to incorporate an elephant motif into my every day life, décor, and style.

This adorable Encased Elephant Hook keeps your coats, hats, or robe hung in style. I'm thinking that I might want to paint this hot pink to match the girls' bathroom. Their robes will look perfect on this hook.

anthropologie encased elephant hook
Elephant Hook

Trunks up for this elegant Monogrammed Elephant Jewelry Roll. Whatever destinations are on your travel agenda, you'll need to keep your jewelry safely organized.

monogrammed elephant jewelry roll monogram
Elephant Jewelry Roll

This spring, I want to host a tea party for some friends. I think that it will be a great way to welcome warmer weather. Won't this Blue Ceramic Elephant Teapot be a perfect addition to the spring celebration?

ceramic elephant teapot
Ceramic Teapot
Pink and orange is a lovely combination. I love this Jonathan Adler Elephant Wall Print for a girl's room, play room, or any room with casual, fun décor.

Jonathan Adler Elephant Wall Print
Wall Print

For me, the elephant in the room is winter. Winter is very difficult for me. I woke up this morning to learn that schools were closed (again!) because of the snow and ice. We were fortunate to have been spared a huge blizzard like other states and I am grateful for that. However, sometimes I feel like a hibernating bear because all I want to do in the winter is stay at home and make things in the crock pot.

Today's crock pot menu will be chicken. I'm off to put some ingredients together now.

Stay warm and have a great day!


Monday, January 26, 2015

Valentine Gift Ideas + Weekend Baking + Date Night Dresses for $50

This weekend was a nice break from the usual crazy, busy weekend. On Friday, I had rehearsal for the production of Legally Blonde at the high school where I teach. I'm playing the role of Elle Woods' mother and am also a juror in act 2 of the play. It's so much fun to be back on stage and relive my theater days.

Natalia and Alexia bought some valentine treats for their friends and had fun shopping for little gifts. I've already bought their treats (shhhh!!!) and am eager for them to see their gifts. Although many people associate the color red with Valentine's Day, I prefer pink.

Today's gift guide features things in a wide variety of price points. The bath ice cream, conversation heart gift towel, the set of conversation heart cookie cutters, and the fortune telling book of love are all under $15. The pink polka dot pajama top is on super sale for less than $10! I love the unique tassel on the leather tote bag and you'll be surprised at the reasonable price. Of course, the Kate Spade watch is more of a splurge, but it's something that you could wear all year.

pink valentines day gift ideas kate spade watch pink purse conversation heart cookie cutters

Bath Ice Cream  //  Candy Hearts Dish Towel  //  Big Buddha Abigale Tote  //  Conversation Heart Cookie Cutters   //  Kate Spade Heart Watch  //  Fortune-Telling Book of Love  //  Polka-Dot PJ Top

Since Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday this year, it's a perfect opportunity for a date night with your sweetheart. The Pink Bubble Texture Bow Dress reminds me of something that Grace Kelly would have worn, with elegant mid-length short sleeves and unique fabric. The A-line waist will flatter your shape. No need to break the bank for this dress that will win dozens of compliments; it's on sale right now.

ASOS Bubble texture bow dress date night dress
I found the next dress in an unexpected place...the junior's department of Nordstrom. While the girls were trying on clothes, I browsed the department to find some things for them and ended up finding something for myself. Oops! The Pink Skater Dress fit me well and hit just above the knee on my 5'4" frame. I did size up to a medium (I wear a 4 or 6 in Lilly Pulitzer) in this dress and it was perfect.

lush pink skater dress date night valentines day
Natalia and Alexia helped me to make some red velvet cupcakes! We doctored up an ordinary cake mix and added some valentine sprinkles to top our treats. I think that the girls did a great job of decorating.

Are you shopping for Valentine's Day?


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Club Picks for 2015

I have always loved to read, but lately I find that I have to make time for myself to read. A book club is a wonderful way to read a book every month, interact with others, and have a productive discussion. What makes a good book club book? Book club books should be long enough to promote a good, healthy discussion but short enough to read comfortably in a month with everyone’s busy schedules.

Books inspire and delight me. A good book takes me to another place or time and gives me a glimpse into another world that might not necessarily be mine. I think that variety is important for a good book club. By mixing non-fiction with fiction and including books with characters from different time periods, ages, and cultural backgrounds, every book offers something new.

Reading is so enjoyable, but it’s even better when it is shared with others during time spent together. Add some delicious food and drinks and it is the recipe for a perfect evening.

Book Club Picks

The Perils of Pauline is a hilarious romantic comedy about the trials and tribulations of motherhood and marriage. Life seems perfect for Pauline until she receives a termination letter one Friday. One event changes the course of everything in this witty and honest book that portrays a woman who does the best she can given tricky circumstances. It's a story of finding out who you ae and what's really important while answering the scariest question of all: "What now?"

I have read the book The Distance Between Us: A Memoir in English and Spanish. My Advanced Studies students read the Spanish-language version of the book and enjoyed Reyna Grande's brutally honest account of growing up in Mexico without her parents and her difficult journey to the United States. My students made dioramas to demonstrate understanding of the text. I love what the students made.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel is a hilarious look at Bernadette Fox. From Amazon, "To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic."

History buffs will love A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire. This interesting non-fiction book recounts the history of one of the world's most valuable commodities of past, cochineal, a vibrant red dye from Mexico that catapulted Spain's economy. With a story that reads like a spy novel and characters including pirates, explorers, kings, and cardinals, history comes alive with this book. I was particularly interested in this book because I visited a cochineal farm in Oaxaca, Mexico.


My daughters and I concurrently read two different books that have a similar theme and discussed them together. Natalia and Alexia read Trash and I read Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. Although the characters in the two books are on opposite sides of the world, both books portray the lives of young trash pickers. The three of us developed a deep appreciation for the lives and opportunities that we have and have tried to be more grateful for what we have. One of the most powerful quotes from the Behind the Beautiful Forevers relays this thought, "It seemed to him that in Annawadi, fortunes derived not just from what people did, or how well they did it, but from the accidents and catastrophes they avoided. A decent life was the train that hadn’t hit you, the slumlord you hadn’t offended, the malaria you hadn’t caught." So powerful.

The Husband's Secret is coming up on our book club list. I'm curious to learn what the husband's secret is in this New York Times Bestseller!

Do you participate in a book club? What books are you reading this year?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Social Media Tips for Parents

For new mommies and toddler mommies, the internet is full of bloggers and advice. But the "Mommy Bloggers" seem to disappear when their children are older. It's easy and fun to share advice and beautiful pictures of adorable children when children are young. But as the children get older, the consequences of their actions are more serious and permanent, especially when it comes to social networking and the use of technology.

My girls love to use technology and are quite adept at using many programs. On a regular basis, Natalia and Alexia make videos for school assignments and submit a large majority of their work online through the paperless Google Classroom. The girls also enjoy using technology for personal use. 

With everything from laptops, Chromebooks, Kindles, and phones in their possession, the best decision that I made was to establish ground rules for using technology before giving these items to the girls. It has worked well for me and the girls are learning how to use technology appropriately and safely. 

Here are the four guidelines that are in place in my home to help educate and protect my daughters in the wild world of social media in 2015. 

1. Lights Out at 8 p.m. My mother always said that it was not appropriate to make or receive phone calls after a certain time of night. Since the majority of the socializing that teens do today takes place on social media, it makes sense to establish times when this socializing can take place. The girls do not make or receive texts, emails, or messages after 8 p.m. when I collect the electronic devices and charge them. I do have to say that when they wake up in the morning, the girls have quite a few messages and notifications. It gives me peace of mind to know that Natalia and Alexia get a good night's sleep that is not interrupted by the glow of a screen.

bamboo charging station
Bamboo Charging Station
2. Nothing is Private. Everything that is texted, messaged, or posted online is a permanent record that serves to paint a picture of the author. I emphasize the importance of carefully considering things that they post or share online. The litmus test that I have for my girls is the "Nana" test. If they wouldn't be proud to show the picture, message, or post to their Nana, then it should not be posted. Today's texts influence future college scholarships and job opportunities. I try to be an example to my girls through my own use of social media and allow them to see everything that I post.

3. Talk with People. While it is important to use technology in a mature, appropriate manner, I believe that it is more important to build relationships in-person. The girls are not permitted to use technology during family meals or special events when they should be cultivating personal relationships face-to-face. Ever since my girls were able to speak, I emphasized the importance of making eye contact and having conversations with others.

4.  Be Kind and Respectful. Self respect is an important characteristic that teens need in order to survive the social media jungle. Natalia and Alexia know that I monitor their posts every night and must notify me if they change their password. I expect them to respect themselves and others, avoiding negative comments and hurtful online activities.

lilly pulitzer print quote

With education about the proper use of social media and a balance of other extra curricular activities, events, and experiences, teens build relationships and self-esteem in a positive environment.

Some of the Prohibited Apps in My House
- Vine
- Snapchat
- Kik
- Tinder

Look for another installment to this blog post that will include my favorite apps for students that will help them to be successful in school as well as something that everyone needs to do right now!

Happy Saturday!


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