Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's 25 Degrees Cooler in Alaska Right Now

During my last week of summer, my family and I went on an Alaskan cruise. I found myself frequently closing my eyes, trying to imprint the feeling of 60 degree weather on my face, knowing that I would be returning to 90+ degree heat in Greenville.

The whole time we were there, my family and I kept marveling at the fact that we were still in the same country we were in just days before in Florida.

The glacier we climbed in Skagway. We had those spiky things on our feet and everything, so it was official.
Our stops included Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Victoria, BC, and a trip down Tracy Arm Fjord. We hiked a glacier, went whale watching, drank more than a few pints in Canada, and generally gallivanted around the cruise ship.

Glacier we hiked again. We refilled our water bottles from it :)

 Me + brothers in front of Mendenhall glacier. I couldn't get over how pretty the blue ice was, almost too brilliant to be real.

 More brilliant, too-good-to-be-true colors

 Pretty houses by the docks

Wet, foggy days in Ketchikan are still lovely.
It was So. Much. Fun. I don't get to spend time with my family nearly enough, so a week with my (not-so) baby brothers and parents was so needed. What a great way to end a whirlwind summer. Cheers, Summer 2014, you were really something; now if you could get out of the way and let Autumn through, we're all a little tired of being sweaty all the time.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Sunday Night Dinner for One ((Baked Ravioli))

Hello there! Whew! The first two weeks of school really got away from me...pretty much just focusing on getting used to waking up to an alarm clock again (insert crying/wailing emoji here).

I don't live at home with my parents anymore, but it is still nice to have a warm home-cooked worthy-of-a-Sunday tasting meal every once in a while. I love to cook and don't mind spending some extra time on a meal if it'll make it that much better, but this recipe for baked ravioli is about as easy as it gets!

I only made a few changes to this recipe to make a perfect and comforting meal for one on the last night of the weekend.

 Some of the things you'll need...minus the ravioli. I used spinach and bacon ravioli I got from the farmer's market...yum!

Layers of comfort. As with most situations in life, fresh mozzarella is a must.

 This kitchen timer makes cooking seem that much more adorable. Mine's from Anthropologie and is sold out, but you can find a similar one here.

Of course, Gatsby needed to test the cheese to make sure it was still good to eat.

Baked Ravioli for One (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

-Frozen Ravioli (one serving; the ones I got from the farmer's market get quite big, so I used four total)
-Fresh Mozzarella
-Jarred Marinara Sauce (I used Trader Joe's Arrabiata)
-Your Choice of Seasonings (I used red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Spray a small pan (I used a loaf pan) with non-stick spray.
2. Spoon enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.
3. Layer ravioli, sauce, and bits of mozzarella twice and cover the pan with aluminum foil.
4. Bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes. Feel free to broil for a few minutes to get the cheese to brown a bit.
5. If you're like me, dump the whole thing in a bowl and eat it on the couch like a heathen. If you're not like me, place half neatly on a plate and garnish with parsley before enjoying it with a glass of pinot noir at a table like a civilized human being. Go back for seconds, of course.

While this is obviously a great Sunday comfort meal, you can definitely enjoy this as a reward for getting through an especially taxing Monday.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer Happened

Since I'm a teacher, I've had the same basic schedule since I was five years old. My life is broken into semesters and is punctuated by well-timed breaks. All my non-teacher friends always express jealousy at my three months-ish of break, but I've never really known any different. There's something so glorious about having that break time to do pretty much whatever you want, whenever you want. I will take the smaller paycheck teachers get every time to have freedom over my time like that (not that I would say no to a raise, don't get me wrong).

I got some good and much-needed mama time...and Gatsby got some Grammy time :)

The thing about having a three month break from your routine is have a three month break from your routine. Days start to blend into one another in that languid way that only summer days can. At its best, you get to work on and do things just because you want to; at its worst, you forget the last time you washed your hair.

 I made some fun friends while in England and played lots of char-ahds (which is like charades, but British).

My family and I hiked a glacier in Alaska. We ate PBJs and filled our water bottles with glacier water and it was one of my favorite days ever.

All of this is to say I haven't been the best blogger the past few months, but for good reason. I've been busy with all the summer things: traveling, spending time with family and friends, hanging out with my sweet nugget, and eating and drinking lots of great food and drink. In the last four months, I've been to New Orleans, England, Austin, and Seattle/Alaska. What?! Picture dump posts are forthcoming. More than having fun, I've had the opportunity to be with people I love and to think deeply about what I want out of life moving forward. What can I say, too much free time makes me existential. Hopefully, some big news is coming soon!

I drank butterbeer at the Harry Potter studios in England. My (not-so) inner nerd was freaking out the whole time.

School (real school, you know, with kids) starts today, and I'm ready for it. I'm ready to wake up at a normal time, do something productive all day, and see my colleagues and students, who I really enjoy being around. I spent my last real day of summer drinking coffee, sitting on the couch with Gatsby, running a few errands, and having dinner with friends.

My brothers and I in front of Mendenhall glacier in Juneau

Goodbye, Summer've been pretty great.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Go-To Souvenirs

Hi there! Sorry for the long hiatus...just so happens that I've been in jolly old England for the last three weeks. Just a warning, the next couple posts are probably going to be pretty Anglophilic.

Hanging out at Highclere (aka Downton Abbey!)

While I hate unpacking after a trip (everything I own is currently wrinkled and smells like suitcase), I love combing through my purchases and reminiscing on the great times I had. 

I bought this painting in Prague from the artist on the same bridge that is in the painting; I still remember walking with my study abroad friends along that bridge at night and staring at the castle in the background.

There is certainly no shortage of cheesy souvenirs out there to tempt us tourists (hello, Queen Elizabeth bobblehead...ok, that one's awesome), so what do you look for when you want to something that makes you smile nostalgically, rather than wonder what you were thinking?

This little print will always remind me of eating scones with clotted cream and wandering around Highclere/Downton Abbey (chatting like a nerd about the various scenes that happened in each room on the show).

I have two go-to's: art and homegoods. To me, the key is finding something that is interesting to look at and that will stand the test of time. Something that sparks conversation is always good, too.

Found these two beauties at a charity shop in the town where I stayed in England. I can't wait to have a friend over for coffee and break these babies out!

Picked this up at a market in the French Quarter on a trip to NOLA with my mom. She has a matching one :)

These are postcards from Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's birthplace); as an English major with an obsession with words, I was seriously geeking out the whole time. I can't wait to make a little gallery wall of them!

I'm not the most well-traveled person out there, but I love that looking around my apartment brings up happy memories! What about you? What's your go-to souvenir? If it's royal bobbleheads, I've got a gift shop in Canterbury that you definitely need to hit up :)


Wednesday, June 18, 2014


I feel like this All. The. Time. Sometimes I look around and wonder who thought it was a good idea to let me live by myself, pay my own bills, and teach children when I still haven't figured out how it is that people save money instead of spending it on clothes. Happy hump day!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Do You Believe in Soulmates?

 I read this great blog post the other day that I found on (where else?) Pinterest. In it, the writer says that her husband isn't her soulmate. At first, I thought it must be a pretty cynical take on relationships, but as I read on, it was really eye-opening. I love this part:

"I love my husband. I think he’s pretty awesome or I wouldn’t have married him and had some babies with him. He makes my life more interesting, makes me better, and loves me even when I’m not very lovable (which is a lot of the time). I picked a good one, for sure. And I’m glad he’s in my life.

But if I hadn’t met him, I think my life would still be pretty good. I wasn’t waiting for someone else to come along and rescue me from my horrible existence. I had a good existence before him."

I love that! She talks about how the idea of a "soulmate" is a lot of pressure to put on one person. And she's so right: to me the idea that one person out there is supposed to fill some sort of void not only puts a lot of pressure on any relationship I might have, but seems like an unfair burden to place on myself. How am I supposed to be good at my job, nurture relationships with friends and family, create a complete life for myself if there really is one person that my whole future is supposed to revolve around? If that's true, I should be actively and exhaustively searching for this person around the clock because there are a lot of people out there.

You always hear that you are supposed to stop looking for someone and that's when someone will appear in your life; I've always thought that sounded like when people tell you not to think of a pink elephant...what's the first thing you think of? It makes a whole lot more sense to craft a life that you actually want and love than to end up with a life built around one person because, let's face it, people aren't always around forever, but you have to live your life for a pretty long time.

The post gets a little religious at the end, but if that isn't your thing, there is still a lot to be gained from it. In my opinion, this is an excellent message for us to share with girls, not to make them cynical, but to encourage them to seek their own life, rather than half of one so that someone else can swoop in and "complete" it. Rather than taking away the "magic" of love, I think this pulls back the curtain and reveals something that is, to me, is more desirable because it actually looks and sounds real.

What do you think? Do you believe in soulmates?


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Songs and Memories

I know they say scent is the strongest sense tied to memory, which I can totally understand, but I really think that certain songs can bring up stronger memories for me.


Do you have songs that bring up memories or certain times in your life?

Here are a few of mine:

"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from Cinderella
-This always reminds me of my dad because he used to sing it to me before bed time. I've always thought that this would be the song we would dance to on my wedding day. It kind of makes me weepy just thinking about it :)

"Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor
-My dad again. He has a really good voice and loves to's funny, when he comes home after work, you can often find him sitting in the car in the driveway or back in the bedroom singing (loudly) to whatever song is on the radio or his iPod. I just remember him singing this song growing up.

"#1" by Nelly
-High school basketball games/high school in general. The team would enter the gym to this song, and it just has such a confident vibe. This song came out my freshman year, and I remember singing it in the car with friends. God, we were cool.

"Nothing Better" by Postal Service
-Pretty much any angsty time in my life. This is my listen-to-it-on-repeat-until-I'm-crying-too-much-to-sing-along song. Break-up? Crush on someone who doesn't know you exist? Moderate to severe panic that comes with almost any life change? Break out the Postal Service and thank me later.

It's interesting to think about a person from your past (or present) and think of what song brings them to mind. I had a crush on someone in high school that comes to mind any time I hear "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World or anything by New Found Glory. So weird, but those types of things make me smile every time, even if it's bittersweet.

Now go dig through that CD book you know you had in high/middle school! There are some serious gems in there ;)


Monday, June 9, 2014

Vacation Ready

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Does anyone else have an "Orange is the New Black" hangover?? SO GOOD.

I'm going on a few big trips this summer (including a three week trip to England! Yee!!) and have been in need of a nice piece of luggage for some time. I know that a suitcase doesn't sound like the sexiest gift ever, but my parents got me this for an early birthday present:

I hate how my iPhone pics never do anything justice...probably has to do with the extreme lack of natural light in my apartment.

Isn't she beautiful? I knew I wanted a hardshell suitcase in a color that would be instantly recognizable coming down the baggage claim line. I really wasn't expecting to fall this hard for a piece of luggage! Here's a better picture from the website:


It's still sitting in the middle of my living room because it makes me smile every time I look at it. I may or may not have actually hugged it several times. I'll definitely report back on how it does when I take it on a trip...a three week trip to England should put it to the test!


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pretty in Purple

Quick post today...because today's the first day of summer (for me, at least)! Woo hoo! I'm celebrating by getting a new cable box, cleaning my apartment, and shopping for supplies for the summer camp I'm running next week. I know, I know, way too much partying for day one; I'll try to scale back in the coming weeks.

Even though I might not be beaching it, I can still feel summer-ready with my pretty summer nails!

This is Essie's "Play Date" and the icky iPhone picture doesn't do it justice. It's bright and cheerful and everything I'm looking for in my summer nail polish!

Happy hump day!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Greek Craving

I went to a Greek festival a few weeks ago with friends and have had Greek food on the mind ever since. While I had my doubts that adding Greek seasoning to fries makes them "Greek fries" (an item on the menu at Greek fest that I giggled at for a minute or two), I love the unique flavors of Greek/Mediterranean foods. They can also be light enough in flavor to be perfect for a summer meal, especially if you do them tapas-style and share with friends!

There is, however, nothing light about (or more delicious than) a doner kebab. I may or may not has existed almost exclusively on these bad boys while studying abroad in Germany. Related: street meat leads to satisfied taste buds and tighter pants.
After going out for wine and Mediterranean food with friends last week and eating the most delicious braised lamb shanks on pita, I knew I had to find some ideas to recreate these tasty bites in my own kitchen.

Here are a few recipes that I've pulled together that would definitely satisfy my Greek craving. I'll make sure to update y'all on the ones I actually make!

Clockwise, from top left: Greek Burgers, Braised Lamb Shanks and Melted Onions (I can't even handle how good this looks!), Baked Lamb Meatball Gyros, Quick & Easy Tzatziki Sauce

OK, so now my mouth is watering. Which one looks best to you? I'm thinking the baked lamb gyros are going to need to happen immediately. Have a happy Tuesday!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Weird Things + Organized Necklaces

What weird things do you like doing or find calming? OK, answers to that could go sideways pretty quickly so I'll just get to the point...

(Insert smiley with heart eyes emoji)

I've always enjoyed detangling necklaces. I know, I'm a weirdo. I also enjoy detangling/unknoting slinkies. For some reason, I find it really calming. You have to focus on just that and can actually start to see your progress pretty quickly. It's so satisfying to unknot and organize something that's a complete mess. I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere, but I'm too busy eying my pretty now-untangled necklaces to complete it.

This is at least three necklaces, and there's even an earring tangled in there! Jackpot.

While I do enjoy a good necklace knot, I don't always have the time to deal with the untangling process (zen as it may be) in the morning when I want to wear a necklace. I found this organizational idea here. So easy, right? This barely counts as DIY...I mean I even avoided having to eyeball a straight line by arranging the nails diagonally. This is where laziness meets creativity. I don't mind the silver nail color, so I didn't paint them the same color as the wall, but I might in the future.

I may have cured myself of the necklace knots for the time being, so if you have a mass of jewelry that needs untangling, I'm your girl!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Meryl and Maks

If you watch Dancing with the Stars, then you know what I'm talking about here. James and Peta may have been the talk of the show for most of the season, but I was so interested in Meryl and Maks! The finale was days ago, and I'm still thinking about them!
I want them to be a couple SO BADLY.

I realize it's completely silly to be this interested in the lives of these people I've never met and will never meet, but I would seriously be so mad if it turned out that they weren't dating.

Ugh, just make out/get married/have a million babies already.
Anyways, that's it. Just my celebrity couple obsession. Not gonna lie, I google "are Meryl and Maks dating" multiple times a day, hoping to see a credible source that says they are. It's getting a little inappropriate.

Happy weekend!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Do You Skimm?

I consider myself pretty well-educated, but until a year or so ago, I had very little awareness of current events, nationally or internationally. I just couldn't see an entry point to even start educating myself. All the 24 hours news networks were always in the middle of a could I ever catch a story when it started? Newspapers and news websites seem like a huge dump of could I wade through it all?

That's why I'm so glad I found the Skimm. It's a free email service that sends you important national and international news every week day. It gives you enough to be dangerous and has a link in pretty much every story for if you want to learn more. Plus, the writing is fresh and interesting. Reading the Skimm is seriously the first thing I do every morning.
Things I Like: The Skimm 

As if it could get any better, the Skimm is a start-up created by two awesome young ladies in New York. I'd like to think that by reading, I'm supporting amazing women striking out on their own and achieving great things. I follow the Skimm on Instagram and regularly read their blog--I wish they were my big sisters! They give entrepreneurial advice that they learn (sometimes the hard way) on their blog; it's a really great picture of what life at a start-up is like: exciting but incredibly hard work.

Sign up for daily Skimms here! You will be so glad you did!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Strawberry Season

In case you haven't heard, strawberry season is in full swing! It's funny; as soon as spring starts...springing, I develop this sense of urgency with my cooking, knowing that I only have a certain amount of time with the local (when possible), in-season produce that I love so much. Any Saturday that I miss the downtown farmer's market between May and October feels like a lost opportunity. 

Strawberries for days

I picked up some lovely strawberries at the market this past weekend, and while I love tossing them in a bowl and munching on them solo, my goal of making at least one new recipe every week demands that I branch out.

 What to do with the beauties? Other than just pop them in my mouth by the handful...?

Here are some recipes I gather from my two favorite food blogs, Joy the Baker and Smitten Kitchen:

Spinach and Strawberry Chopped Salad (I'm not usually a fruity salad type of gal, but this combo looks delicious!)

Roasted Strawberry and Toasted Coconut Popsicles (I've actually made these before, so they don't count as a new recipe for me, but, I can tell you they are tasty!)

Ugly strawberries need love, too.

Strawberry Cream Scones (These just cry out for an iced cafe au lait.)

Strawberry Tart (Think: strawberries + pastry brainer.)

Mixed Berry Pavlova (The strawberries in this are just cut and used as topping, but it looked so light and fresh and everything I want in a dessert right now, that I had to include it.)

Strawberry Massacre

Are you taking advantage of strawberry season? Hooray for spring and all the tasty bites it brings!

All done.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Gatsby Hates Baths

You know how Gremlins get when they get wet? That's a little like it is when it's bath time for Gatsby. My sweet nugget has many wonderful qualities, but affinity for water isn't one of them.

These bath time pictures, captioned with what I can only guess are his thoughts, are just too hilarious not to share.

"Wait, what. You know I hate baths. Stop this now."

 "Oh wow, this water's really wet. Can we be done yet?"

 "Are you taking pictures of this? I'm totally going to pee in your closet."

 "You're so lucky Grandma's holding me back right now. How is anyone supposed to take me seriously when I look like something that got stuck in the drain?"

"We are still not on speaking terms. But, yes, you can continue blow drying me."

What Gatsby lacks in size and ability to swim, he more than makes up for in attitude. 

Happy weekend!