Now that I’m a real teacher…

… I have a real Teachers Pay Teachers account!!

I feel really official.

Today alone I sold 10 products!!! By the way, did you know if was Constitution Day?? I did. And my kiddos were the most festive of kiddos at school. We even wore (well… attempted to wear) hats all day to show our patriotism!! And because I’m a forward-thinking gal, I made an activity for us to do and posted it on TPT. Apparently between 7am and 1pm today there were 10 teachers out there that were told that it was Constitution Day, and I’m SO glad that my little activity came to the rescue :)

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I wish I could show you the little smiley faces that wore these hats!

OH! And I also finally posted my Word Wall today.

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Successful day living the #teacherlife.

Flaunt 2014

This weekend we had the pleasure of visiting sweet Thomasville for a few short hours. I do not know that we could have packed more into the 4 hours that we had in town, but when in T-ville on a Saturday morning there’s never a shortage of fun things to do!

We were so excited when planning our weekend trip to find out that we were going to be arriving right in the middle of Flaunt 2014! If you’re not from Thomasville you might not know that it is quite an artsy town. The SoHo of the South, if you will. And the Thomasville Center of the Arts does AMAZING things for the community, one of which is Flaunt. Annually, the Center hosts several public art events throughout the year (Due South in April & PWAF in November are two you can’t miss either). Flaunt takes place in the early fall each year and lasts for an entire MONTH with art installations displayed around town as well as family events, concerts, and fancy dinner fundraisers on the bricks. This year the theme was/is “Pop It Up” and the artists invited an amazing group of local artisans to open up a slew of pop-up shops!

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Literally. The. Coolest.

Sadly, we didn’t get to visit every shop, but each pop-up that we entered had its own story, fine products to boast, and interesting folks behind the brands that were there to greet us personally. There’s just something about a personal touch and face-to-face conversation that can really connect you to a business. Here are a few of my new favorite vendors that I plan to visit for all of my Christmas shopping this year:

1. Fuzzy Goat – Okay, this first one isn’t even a pop-up! But they opened the doors right after we left town, and even though I’m not a knitter, I could not resist the warmth of this shop. Fuzzy Goat sells yarn and has the cutest storefront of anywhere I’ve ever seen (seriously, just check out their website for proof). They offer classes, which I’ve heard are superb for people of all skill levels, and their selection is gorgeous. Every colorful, soft, cozy yarn you could ever dream of. Again, not a pop-up, but I couldn’t pass up mentioning such a great new place!

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Now for the pop-ups… :)

2. Sturdy Brothers – By far a favorite, these guys have some SERIOUS talent and offer amazing craftsmanship that is hard to come by these days. Spencer and Ben are really brothers, and their story is so cool and genuine. They make leather products the old-fashioned way, and the quality of their products proves that they’re the real deal. Plus, there aren’t many times that you wish you needed a durable wax-coated apron for work… but once you see theirs you most certainly will.

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3. B’s Botanicals – I loved talking to Betsy, and her terrariums are to die for. She has created some gorgeous pieces with orchids and ivy and other botanicals that would make any table top lovely. I love that her site refers to her art as “petite gardens” because that’s just what they are!! A little retreat and a touch of something fancy.

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4. SoloHope – No, not Hope Solo. This company not only offers a beautiful, sturdy fashion accessories but also jobs and an income for women in Honduras that are the key ingredient of the SoloHope family. Emilee, the lovely founder of this sweet-hearted business, was a joy to chat with and shared her experiences in Honduras with us. You can sense her passion from a mile away, and it made me so happy when she not only named the Honduran women by name but was able to tell their stories, which thankfully she is a huge part of. Jewelry and a good cause… I’m sold. Oh, and did I mention that it’s all made of pine straw and thread. So stinkin’ cool!

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5. Raley’s Confectionary – Still can’t get over this one… An old-fashioned candy confectionary that stays true to the art of candy-making while also making it delicious enough to be on the shelves of Whole Foods. Too cool. And Wes was so kind to explain the process of how they make these incredibly intricate little hard candies with perfect flavor and amazing pictures within… Again, I’m still not over how awesome it is. And yes, that is pumpkin spice…

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And again, we didn’t even see half of what Flaunt 2014 had to offer us! I wish the hours could have been multiplied so that we could have seen it all. But without a doubt, the community connections felt strong and I was easily reminded that Thomasville, Ga might just be heaven on earth.

Rememberance

Homeland

I vow to you my country, all earthly things above.

Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love.

The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,

That lays upon the alter the dearest and the best.

The love that never falters. The love that pays the price.

The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

Though the road has bends and turns, and my spirit suffers.

Humans fail. Systems fail. Shadows fall.

But the rut runs deep, cut by the blood of faces above.

And voices now silent.

But the message loud is heard!

Homeland. Homeland.

Renew your youth, restore your soul.

Homeland, the country that I love, hold out your arms to me.

I strive for you and give you the best I hope to be.

May your wisdom be your armor. Your compassion be your sword.

May your be strength be forged with mercy. Your courage, lives restore.

Homeland, the country that I love, forever reign supreme.

When time stands still, my Homeland, may Heaven hold your dreams.

I’ll never forget where I was 13 years ago today, and I’ll never forget singing this song (check out the link) with 50 of my lifelong friends just 2 days later as our country mourned a great loss. September 11, 2001… Never forget.

Speaking of books…

My top ten books of all time (or at least that I can remember today) in no particular order:

1. The Bible. Okay, that one did need to come first. And if you haven’t read it yet you should give it a try.

2. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I wore the spine out on this book in the 2nd – 5th grade. I think I read it 6 times. It will always be special because of its content and its impact on me at such a young age.

3. The entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. If you’ve only seen the movies… just stop only watching the movies! I loved reading always, but this series is when I learned to love characters. I really love those characters.

4. Nancy Drew (all) by Carolyn Keene. Out of the 64 in the series I think I read 40 or so. I’ve always loved who-dunits, and Nancy was who I wanted to be when I grew up. Not to mention I had a sweet computer game that my cousin and I would play for hours and hours pretending to be Nancy… I never beat that game.

5. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I hated my 6th grade reading class because my teacher was mean. But I loved going to class everyday that we read about Ponyboy. Not to mention, he might’ve been my first crush.

6. This is a new/ current favorite. And yes, it’s a book for children. No, David by David Shannon. We literally read this book everyday because it makes my students (and me) laugh and because I get to use it as a vessel to tell my students that they are loved no matter what they do. Plus, the author wrote it about himself, which I think it hilarious.

7. The Crucible by Arthur Miller. I know it’s a play, but it’s still literature. Also, it’s the play I read that made me fall in love with theater (even though I’d been doing the “drama” thing for a while).

8. I hate that I’m including three series… I need to read more stand-alones haha. But I can’t deny that I enjoyed reading these books to the point that I flat ignored my loving then-boyfriend for an entire week at the beach reading them… The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

9. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Goodness gracious, I can’t say enough about this book, how it transformed my heart, and how it led to me truly finding my identity in Christ. Again, goodness gracious, please read it.

10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I always wanted sisters. I like to think that this book gave me four to love as mine until I got my own sweet sister-in-love. And I own the prettiest copy on earth (that is displayed in our home… all the time).

Whew! That was tough. But thank you, sweet Ashton, for challenging me to think on this list. A love of reading never leaves you (even when you forget to love it well).

The Revival of Book Club

Remember when I said we were taking a break from Netflix and reading more? Well that lasted for a little while, and then we watched all six seasons of Modern Family like it was our job.

But now, hubby’s natural state looks like this:

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Huge books (because that’s law school), huge headphones (because noise-canceling technology is where it’s at), sharp clothes (because you have to dress for success), and pensive expression (because).

So my schoolteacher self has taken to reading for pleasure. For once in my entire life I am not a student. No papers to write (unless you count IEPs as papers, which maybe you should), no classes to attend (except the ones I teach), and (almost) no work to bring home. Haha. Okay. That last one was a joke. But in comparison to the amount of work Will does at work, I have LOTS of free time.

My first pleasure read was a book I’ve been wanting to read since before the adapted movie version was even announced. Let me be clear… I haven’t seen the movie nor was I planning to until I read the book because I heard too many wonderful things to not read it for myself. Book #1… The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Now I am aware that I am not in high school, but I seriously doubt that high school fiction will ever bore me. I never cried (call me Cold), but I was so captivated by the spread of emotions in this novel. Real joy. Real sadness. Real anger. Real life. High school, shmigh school… It was a darn good book.

And it was so darn good that I decided that my next pleasure read should be by the same author. I’m currently reading Paper Towns by John Green. It’s good. Hasn’t hit me like Fault did yet, but then again I’m only on Chapter 6 so I’ve got a ways to go.

One thing that I love about Green is the way that he says things that we all think but don’t take the time to either process and reflect on wholly or just say aloud. Emotions that are raw, yet sensitive. Harsh, yet witty and playful. I like him. I like him a lot. And I’m already planning Book #3… Looking for Alaska (by Green). I figure I might as well not mess with a good thing :)

Anyone else a John Green fan? I understand that for many this is a rhetorical question, but I want to know why. Let’s make this book club revival interactive. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

App of the Day: iReconcile

Money apps can be scary. I don’t like giving out my financial information at all, so iReconcile was the perfect app for me when I was looking for a way to keep up with my budget without having to input any personal info (other than account totals). What iReconcile does is help you track your spending. It doesn’t actually connect to your accounts, so the accuracy of it is all on you. But it is an awesome way to keep up with your ledger of spending without having to check your mobile account everyday. AND you can add multiple accounts! As many as you have! So you can see everything (credit cards, savings accounts, checking accounts) all at one time! Plus, there is a lock feature, so unless someone has the 4-digit pin they can’t see your account!

I used iReconcile’s free version for over a year (thanks to my buddy Taylor Martin’s suggestion), and then when Will and I got married and joined the moneys together we upgraded to the iReconcile paid app. The best part about the paid version is that you can sync between devices! This means that Will and I can both input transactions anywhere, anytime and it will sync up so that when the other person goes to make their next purchase they are seeing the most accurate account information. Again, this all depends on how well you keep up with it. I won’t point fingers, but there have been times that our iReconcile has been QUITE different from our real account total… Maybe I forgot to put in a pedicure… Sue me. (Or maybe I didn’t add it on purpose.)

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We have loved this app and how it serves as a useful budgeting tool as well as accountability for spending. For instance, I will sometimes refrain from that chocolate bar at the gas station for the sheer fact that I don’t want Will to know the mass amounts of chocolate I’m smuggling into my diet… Or at least how much it costs :) But really, honesty in a relationship is the key and that honesty extends to spending and how you honor YOUR (not his or my) money.

For anyone, try out the app! For marrieds, try the sync feature. You can pay $1.99 monthly if you just want to test it out or $19.99 a year if you want it for day-to-day use. It can be found in the App Store for any Apple user. We just resubscribed for a year, so obviously we’re fans. Share your opinions on the app, other apps you’ve used, or helpful ways that you have found to budget and monitor your spending!!

Influenster: The Bra Edition

Ya’ll… Do you know how pricey sports bras can be? Let’s just say they can be pricey enough that my cheap self won’t replace them for years. Literally, years.

My poor husband has heard me complain while running time and time and time again, and each time he says the logical male thing… “Buy a new one”. But it’s not that easy, men!! It’s not that easy. I once bought a sports bra, and every time I wear it I feel like I’m going to be sick (for the record, it might be too small). Then on the other hand I have a drawer full of sports bras that are SO comfortable but provide absolutely zero support. I feel like it’s a Catch-22; you either have painful but highly supportive (as in you can’t move) or comfortable with way too much wiggle room.

Obviously, these are both problems for the running woman.

But then along comes my Internet BFF, Influenster, and magically I’m made a believer in the most glorious of all sports bras in the whole world, the VSX Incredible. And my friends, it lives up to its name.

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When I got the initial survey for Influenster for this VoxBox, I prayed (again, literally) that I would be chosen because, if I’m being honest, I was in no way ever going to even consider getting a Victoria’s Secret sports bra. Hah! Like I’m going to buy a $50 sports bra. I won’t even go and replace the $10 one. But if I got a free one… :) 

And then I was told I’d qualified and would get my bra soon, and I thought “YES! I totally tricked the system! I’m getting a really good sports bra for free and I’ll never even have to buy one myself!”

Ladies and gents (if you’re still reading the bra blog), VS Sport and Influenster are who did the tricking. Because let me tell you, I tried on the Incredible sports bra and immediately vowed to never take it off… Like ever. I’m already planning my trip to Victoria’s Secret to get one in every color available and I will NEVER go back to the cheap sports bra. Because really the only thing a cheap bra buys you is a miserable workout. With the VSX Incredible I am confident, comfortable, and totally able to focus on my workout (not how badly my chest aches)… That’s priceless, people. $50 now will also probably save me thousands in the long run when I don’t have intense pains from careless workouts of my youth… Jussayin’. 

I’m going through a serious #SportsBraBreakup and I’ll only be true to my VSX Incredible. It deserves my undivided attention and loyalty.

Oh, and did I leave out that they also threw some workout pants in there… for no cost? I’m talking an entire workout outfit (valued at about $120 all together), and I know now why they were able to send out such expensive merchandise to cheap-o’s like me. It’s because now that I’ve experienced the QUALITY of the GOOD stuff, I’ll never go back. Dangit… They got me good.

If you’re not excited after reading this, no worries. But if you ARE, send me your email address and I’ll send you a personal invite to the best online product testing site there is!!

Oh, and I got this cool VS Sport swag for free from Influenster, just in case you missed that :) *VoxBox

 

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