Monday, March 26, 2018

Two Months of Life Updates

It's been two months since I've published a post. So much for that new year resolution to be a better blogger.. Anyways, I'm back! I hate that I've been slacking, but what I have learned is that we have to forgive ourselves sometimes.  It's okay to not be a super human every once in awhile.  However, truth be told I feel like I need to stop making excuses as to why I've been so MIA.  In January, I got a new laptop that's lightning fast, which should inspire me to write and create more content.  Throughout my whole journey of blogging I've always lacked consistency when it comes to posting.  So this is my new goal- consistency. In my time off, I've had the opportunity to reflect on what I can do to achieve this goal. I've decided to begin my posting simply once per week. With everything that I'm balancing right now, I feel like this goal makes blogging less overwhelming and keeps me writing posts for you all. If I publish more than that, then it's just a bonus!

Grab some coffee and let's chat! Today I'm sharing some life updates and some of my current favorites.  These types of posts are always one of my top to read and write.  I love reading them because I always discover new music, food, tips and tricks, a book to read, a fun fact about a blogger I love, etc.  Writing these posts are always fund because it requires me to do a little self check in and reflection.  Plus, I love getting feedback from YOU! The comments and questions I get are always the best.  I mean who doesn't love an interactive post?

Life Updates
Grad School
Hello, the nerd is back and ready to learn.  Anyone else just love to learn? I started earning my second degree in January.  Back in November I decided I was ready to add something else to the mix of life. I applied to a Masters of Literacy program where I completed my undergraduate studies.  The school is well known for education and half way between work and home, so it was pretty much a no brainer for me to take classes there.  I am currently taking two classes.  Initially it felt like so much reading and writing. I thought  I would never be able to stay current with school, teaching, working out, and maintaining a social life. However, I've been able to manage everything pretty well.  I am now in the flow of things, and I couldn't imagine not taking classes.  It's been fun meeting new people, taking what I'm learning and applying it to my classroom, and gaining new knowledge.

This week is our Spring Break.  With all the snow days, it feels a little odd to be off school again.  The month of March has been so choppy between getting the flu, snow days, and all of the other interruptions we have had. When we return, it will be the last week in the third quarter. I cannot believe how fast the year has gone by.  It's exciting because I am so close to completing my first full year of teaching.. I'd say that in itself is a big milestone.

Wedding Planning
If you have been reading for awhile, then you know that Todd and I got engaged this past November.  The wedding planning is definitely in full swing.  I'll have a more detailed update in a post to come (Think: Wedding Wednesday). So far we have our date, wedding venue, and photographer.  This week I'm working to firm up a few more details.  Overall, the process has been a lot of fun!

The new year has been good for me. I've managed to workout 2-4 times each week. I have branched out and started trying some new classes at the gym.  My newest favorite has been Body Pump.  It's a high energy class that uses barbells. Think exercises like squats, presses, lifts, curls, lunges, and 10 minutes of core work. It's a great full body workout.  I've also been enjoying some shorter runs and cycle classes. I'm looking to incorporate more stretching into my weekly roundup.  A few years back I did some yoga at home thanks to Yoga by Adriene.  I'm thinking of doing her TRUE 30 Day Challenge. I'm looking for an accountability partner if anyone is interested in doing it with me let me know!

With a lot of big expenses to save for (best friend's wedding festivities, wedding, house, paying for grad school, etc.), I've cut back my spending habits significantly. I have not done any actual shopping in quite a bit.  I think it helps that we are almost in between seasons, so the clothes out in the stores are not appropriate to wear now.  Let's be real,  we just got nine inches of snow last week and the stores are stocked with shorts and tanks. I have done some online shopping, but I haven't actually bought anything.  My shopping cart is full and ready to check out, but I just have not committed to anything yet.
Some items on my current wish list: 
lattice back shirt//blush raincoat//spin shoes//Lilly one piece,//blush slip ons//monogram luggage

To be honest, every time I sit down to watch tv I fall asleep.  I record a bunch of shows and every once in awhile I will do some binge watching to catch up on them.  Currently on my DVR: Gray's Anatomy, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Vanderump,  and The Summer House. For the first time in awhile, I actually am not currently viewing any series on Netflix.

My newest obsession has been Bishop Briggs. I just love her voice.  Her music is great to have in the background while I'm grading, working on grad school work, cleaning, cooking, or driving.

 As far as podcasts go, I'm now collecting recommendations for something new. I went through the whole Millennial series.  I loved season one, but season two just didn't do anything for me.

Layers on layers. The weather has been pretty chilly here lately. My outfits have consisted of some combination of dresses, leggings, boots, over sized sweaters, capes, and blanket scarves. 

I've been in a bit of a slump when it comes to cooking.  On a good week, I usually meal prep on Sundays.  Lately, life has been filled with busy weekends and hectic week nights.  I'm still trying to eat healthy despite the obstacles of life.  Some of my favorite recipes have been coming from Skinny Taste.

This month I have discovered my new favorite beverage- fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.  It's a little high in sugar content, but it's all natural.  Plus, the immense health benefits outweigh everything else. I started drinking it each morning to jump start my day.  I buy it at Wegman's.  One bottle usually lasts me through the week.  It's so bitter, so I usually only drink 6-8 ounces at a time.

Even though I've been so MIA, my instagram has still been updated. Check out what else I've been up to lately my following me: @Shorelifeof_m 

Leave a comment with your current favorites: listening to, eating, drinking, wearing, shopping etc. I always love to hear what y'all have to say!


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

January Reading List

One of my goals for this year is to read more.  I love to read, but I just don't make enough time for it.  I always seem to fill my time with so many other pointless things like scrolling through social media, watching tv, etc.  As a Language Arts teacher, I feel kind of hypocritical making my students read daily when I myself don't read daily.  Sure I read blogs, emails, short stories for lessons, and essays but that's not the same.  I find reading to be very therapeutic. It allows me to turn my brain off and think about something other than real life.  This month I have been working on putting my phone away and taking out my book before bed.  I have been trying to read a chapter per night before falling asleep. Most nights I end up reading about half of a chapter before I find myself dozing off.  Either way, I'm creating healthier habits and working towards crossing off a goal (1 book per month) from my list. 

So what am I reading? 
Reading as a teacher: In my classroom, I'm currently reading Tangerine written by Edward Bloor with two of my classes, and I'm reading The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie with my other class.  Tangerine is about a middle school male protagonist who is forced to move from his home in Texas to Florida.  He experiences the ups and downs of being a middle schooler. This coming of age story is one that is great for students who are on the younger end of middle school. The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian is a more mature book.  The story is based on the author's life growing up.  The Native American male protagonist chooses to leave his home on "the rez" to live with an all white family.  The story is about him making choices to live life the way he wants to regardless of the backlash he may get.

Reading as a student: This week I started my journey as a grad student.  I am currently enrolled in two literacy based courses.  Needless to say, they both require lots of reading.  This week's readings have been about the different levels of readers and what it means to be literate. I am actually really enjoying the reading and how it relates to my profession (#nerdalert). We will see if I still say the same thing a few weeks from now when I'm fully buried in it all.

Reading just because: The part that most of you have probably been waiting for..
The book that I have been reading a chapter or so of each night is Turtles All the Way Down written by John Green.  It's definitely one of the better books I've read that he has written.  Unpopular opinion, I did not love his previous books that I've read.  I thought they were weak for lack of a better word.  I always found myself skipping a few pages here and there just to get to the end of the book.  I'm one of those people who has to finish the book once I start it. It's very rare that I abandon a book. So far Turtles All the Way Down  is a great light read. There's some humor, a little romance, a small sense of hopelessness, and the characters are relatable. 

Reading as a chef: Well, the chef part is questionable. Last week on Instagram I saw a feature post on a new cookbook. I browsed the recipe that was posted and took mental note to look up the cookbook at a later time.  Days later I found myself browsing a store with my mom. We picked up a cookbook, browsed the recipes, noted that there were many delicious ones, and proceeded to order it online. Fun fact: Amazon has most books for cheaper than the mark up price they are sold at in stores. On Friday night, I finally opened the package and realized that it was the cookbook I had seen weeks before.  I haven't tried any recipes yet, but I'm excited to cook something new! You can get your own copy of Healthyish here!

I'm searching for my book for February, so feel free to leave a comment with some books that you have been enjoying lately or something that's currently on your "must read" list.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Agenda Organization for Teachers

I'm still hesitant to share too many posts about teaching. I created my blog five years ago to serve as a creative outlet, and I do want to keep it as an outlet. However, I guess I do have to acknowledge that teaching has become a big part of my life just like being a student used to be.  I did a couple polls a few weeks back and you guys said you wanted more posts about teaching and organization, so I thought I would start out by combining the two.  I love being organized. When life feels like it's getting crazy, being organized is the one thing that I do have control over.  

Being a middle school teacher, I feel like it's a little extra important that I am organized.  Middle school is a time when students are building life skills (like being organized), so it's important for them to have models for them to imitate behaviors from. In my class, I am constantly teaching my students organization tricks.  I occasionally will even have students stay after school with me to help get their binders organized for classes other than mine. 

Since my senior year of high school, I have kept my personal and academic life organized by using an agenda.  My agenda has always helped me keep track of important events, due dates, and to do lists to keep me focused.  During undergrad I always thought about what my teacher agenda would look like.  During student teaching I used a jumbo Lilly Pulitzer agenda. It worked well because I had to balance lesson planning, class assignments, and my social life. However, I knew I would need more space when I would manage my own classes without the help of someone else.  Last spring, my long term substitute position was only for a few months, so I created my own agenda using print outs and a binder. Amidst my job hunt this summer, I began doing research so that I could purchase my teacher agenda as soon as I was hired.  I spent about a month looking up different reviews, talking to friends that had already started teaching, and reading teaching blogs.  I had gone to several different stores to preview a few different agendas. Near the end of July, I finally decided what I wanted and it was on sale, but I had not been hired anywhere yet.  I refused to purchase a planner until I was actually hired because I didn't want to jinx myself out of a contract.  My mom purchased it for me and hid it in her home office until I was finally hired. 

I chose to use the Happy Teacher Planner. I purchased it at Michael's. They had a huge sale and promotion going on, so I got the teacher pack plus a free hard cover for less than $30. The teacher box kit came with an extra sticker set, a pen, and a bookmark with sticky notes.I also purchased an additional sticker book because I had a coupon. I prefer the hard cover for two reasons. The first reason, it's more my style. The second reason is that it protects the pages better. I've spilled water in my bag, but the hard shell kept the pages from being ruined.

These are some of the stickers that come in the extra pack, but below are the stickers that came in the kit as well as the book I purchased. 

The feature that sold me on this specific brand as opposed to others is that you can take the pages out and move them around, which is not possible with any other planner that I've found. This planner also allows for tons of flexibility and creativity.  Some people have compared it to scrap booking.  The stickers allow you to customize it to fit your needs. It could 100% be used by elementary or secondary teachers.  

I use Washi tape to separate the daily pages into the columns that I need. I use a section for eighth grade, eighth grade homework, sixth grade, sixth grade homework, and daily to do lists. There is enough room for me to even write extra notes about each section I teach.

This is what the pages look when you first get it. The dates and week numbers are blank as well, but I had already filled them in prior to this picture. 

Step two is to set up the week's outlook to fit your needs. I teach two different grades, so I dedicate a side for each grade level.

Step three is to write your plans in.  Pro tip in case you are new to teaching- always write your plans in pencil.  Things change very quickly, and you never know when you're going to have to change your plans due to weather, pacing of a topic, emergency drills, and other unexpected interruptions. 

Some of my favorite features include the front and back pockets to store important papers, the monthly calendar, notes pages before each month, the class checklists, and the monthly pages for special events/reminders.  The notes pages are nice because I am able to keep track of important notes from team meetings, department meetings, parent meetings, and faculty meetings in one spot without having to bring another notebook.  I also enjoy having the option to look at the entire month's calendar at one time.  This is where I write down any important meetings or changes to the daily schedule.

The checklists are great because you can keep your grade book and plan book all in one place.  I usually color code each assignment, so by the end of the marking period my grading sheet is quite colorful. If you need more checklists, then you can purchase the teacher expansion pack or the special whole punch to use after making copies of your grade book. 

Although I'm only half way through the year, I definitely anticipate on purchasing another Happy Planner to use for teaching next year.  It's been easy to keep track of plans, meetings, important notes, grades, passwords, etc.

What do you use to keep your daily life organized?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Goal Setting Update

If you've been reading my blog for some time now, then you have come to learn how much I love goal setting.  I am not one to set resolutions because they are too vague, which means I never stick to them.  I like setting goals because they are clear and concise. It's easy to tell whether or not you have achieved them or if you fell short. Quality goals are measurable, which makes them easier to check off as accomplished tasks. Last January I created my new year goals a little differently. I created my second 101 things to accomplish in 1,001 days list.  Well, it's been just over a year, so I thought it was time for an update on what I've accomplished thus far. 

Starts: January 2, 2017
Ends: September 30, 2019 
(22 complete, 79 to go!) 

1. Collaborate with a brand I enjoy (2017)
2. Host a blogging series
3. Host a giveaway 
4. Make blogging business cards
5. Publish a collaboration post (February 2017)
6. Monetize the blog
7. Publish three “how to” posts
8. Update my “About me” page

9. Become an involved alumnae of my sorority (Alpha Delta Pi) 
10. Buy a car (April 2017)
11. Complete 52 week saving challenge
12. Go a month without ordering takeout
13. Go a month without shopping (February 2017)
14. Inspire others to create their own goal list
15. Knit for charity
16. Learn calligraphy 
17. Learn how to give myself a blowout
18. Move into my first grown up apartment/home
19. Obtain a passport 
20. Participate in 100 happy days 
21. Put $10 into my savings account for every goal accomplished
22. Read 5 books from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge
23. Read a book a month
24. Take a class to learn how to use my DSLR camera
25. Take part in More Love Lettering
26. Unplug for 24 hours
27. Volunteer somewhere regularly
28. Write 10 Operation Beautiful notes

29. Have my own classroom (Fall 2017)
30. Obtain a coaching certification
31. Obtain my masters degree
32. Pass the PA Middle Grades Science PRAXIS
33. Pass the Reading Specialist PRAXIS
34. Travel with one of the teams I coach

Just For Fun
35. Attend a concert (August 2017)
36. Complete an adult coloring book
37. Complete one knitting project (April 2017)
38. Do a wine tasting (April 2017)
39. Go for a hike somewhere new
40. Go snorkeling 
41. Go to a beer garden 
42. Go to a concert (August 2017)
43. Go to a MLB game
44. Go to a NFL game (October 2017)
45. Go to a NHL game (December 2017)
46. Go to a NBA game (January 2017)
47. Go white water rafting
48. Have a picnic
49. Learn how to golf
50. Learn how to make a martini
51. Leave a 100% tip for good service
52. Participate in an escape room
53. Pick a pumpkin from a pumpkin patch and carve it
54. Pick berries
55. Play mini golf (August 2017)
56. See a movie in the park
57. Spend a day at the aquarium 
58. Spend a day at the zoo
59. Take dance lessons 
60. Try a new brewery (July 2017- Dewey Brewing Company) 
61. Visit a museum(February 2017)
62. Watch a movie at a movie tavern 
63. Watch a movie outdoors

Friends & Family
64. Eat at Talula’s Table 
65. Give five “just because” gifts(3 down)
66. Treat someone to brunch  (January 2017)
67. Host a brunch
68. Host a cookie/beer exchange
69. Host a dinner party
70. Mail a care package (February 2017)
71. Make a list of birthdays and addresses
72. Plan a ladies’ weekend
73. Send birthday cards

Health & Fitness
74. Complete a fitness challenge
75. Complete A Year of Mindfully Living
76. Don’t let more than two days in a row pass without working out for a year
77. Make a routine of doing yoga/Pilates
78. Make homemade hummus (Summer 2017)
79. Participate in “Meatless Mondays” for one month 
80. Participate in a color run
81. Plant a vegetable garden 
82. Run a 15 K
83. Run a 5k (November 2017)
84. Run a half marathon
85. Try a barre class (July 2017)

86. Go camping 
87. Go on a road trip
88. Go somewhere with fairly clear ocean water
89. Go to DC at Christmas time
90. Ride a train somewhere
91. Spend a day in Baltimore
92. Spend time in the Florida Keys 
93. Take a trip with my mom
94. Travel outside the United States
95. Vacation on the coast of New England
96. Visit a three new states
97. Visit Boston, Massachusetts 
98. Visit Charleston, South Carolina (August 2017)
99. Visit Chicago
100. Visit NYC
101. Visit Reading Terminal Market

In the past year I have been able to check 22 items off the list. Not quite as many as I had hoped, but it's certainly a start. Take a look at some of the tasks I've completed below. 

Collaborate with a Brand
Check out my post on how to conquer and early morning gym session here

Go a month without shopping
Intentionally, I chose the shortest month of the year to complete this task.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  I think it helps that my birthday is this month, so anything I wanted I just asked for on my birthday wish list.  I think I'm going to be forced to complete this challenge again, at some point, this year because we are saving to pay for our wedding and a future house. 

Buy a Car
In April, I got my first teaching position as a Long Term Substitute. The money I made along with what I had saved allowed me to purchase my own car.  It was a little out of my budget, but since I spend so much time commuting to work I definitely don't mind the pricey car payment.  If you're looking for a new car, then I highly recommend checking out Subaru. 

Have My Own Classroom
This summer was spend job hunting.  The first week in August I was on vacation with my family when I received the long awaited "you got the job" phone call.  I spent a few days in August setting up the classroom that I have been teaching in for the past five months.  It's crazy to believe that I'm coming up on the half way mark of my first full year teaching! Here's a sneak peak of my room. I'm planning to give you a more detailed tour in the upcoming month!

Attend a Concert
To conclude the summer, my family went to see Zac Brown Band.  It was such a fun concert. If you haven't seen him, then definitely add him to your list of bands to see.  I would recommend seeing him at a smaller venue if possible. My dad, who doesn't love country music, even thought the show was awesome. 

Complete a Knitting Project
I forgot to take a picture of the final project, but last year I spent several months creating the softest baby blanket for one of my closest friends.  I gave her the gift just before her baby was born, and it turns out to be one of his favorite blankets now! 

Attend a Wine Tasting
Mid May we travelled to Virginia with Todd's family.  We took advantage of being in wine country and toured several different wineries. Our favorite was a small family run vineyard.  They served the tastiest homemade snacks to pair with each wine.  

Visit a Beer Garden
One of our favorite local watering holes during the summer is a pop up beer garden.  They have yard games, live music, food trucks,  a different brand of beer on tap each weekend, kids activities, and are dog friendly.  We're hoping that our pup will be calm enough to tag along with us this upcoming summer. 

NHL Game, NBA Game, and MBA game
So close to making it to all four major sports in one year!  We went to a Philadelphia Flyers game, Philadelphia Eagles game, and a Philadelphia 76ers game this past year.  I'm hoping to make it to a Phillies game sometime this spring or summer. 

Visit Charleston, SC & Play Mini Golf & Try a New Brewery
This summer my family packed up the car and headed down south for a week of relaxation.  Charleston was absolutely amazing.  I loved the balance of history, beach time, and fabulous food/beverages. My family has developed a tradition of playing mini golf on vacation. Of course we searched for a place to keep the tradition going in South Carolina.  You don't know what competitive is until you've played a round of mini golf with us. 

I have 633 days left to complete 79 tasks. I think it is definitely doable as long as I stay focused. As I rang in the new year, I thought about how I can be more diligent with completing my list.  I decided to break the tasks down by month.  I decided that on average I need to complete about 4-5 tasks per month.  

This month I am working to begin crossing off some longer term goals: starting grad school, reading at least a book per month, not letting more than two days pass without some type of exercising, and by publishing a "how to" post.

The short goals I plan to cross off my list this month include visiting NYC, watching a movie at a movie tavern, inspiring at least one other person to create their own goal list, and leave a 100% tip somewhere even if it's just at the local coffee shop. 

If you're interested in making your own list, then I have a few tips for you.  First, take a look at several different people's list to gain inspiration. Second, break your list down into topics. This will make it easier to come up with 101 items.  Third, once you've made your list break it down into small monthly tasks.  Fourth, have fun! 

If you're interested in making a list, let me know so I can cross off that I've inspired someone! 

Stay current with my list throughout the year by checking here frequently. 


Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Blog Recap

I started out 2017 on my blogging "A game". I was getting all time high comments, views, and collaborations with brands and other bloggers.  I was posting regularly. I took the time to take high quality pictures with my camera. But then life got in the way... my up and down roller coaster of frequent postings to being MIA continued yet again.  I honestly am blaming life for this.  This year has been a tough one for me.  It was certainly a transition year from being a college student to an adult. A year filled with losing people close to me and my family.  A year that redefined what it means to be healthy.  A year that taught me to truly count my blessings. Regardless of my excuses, I let you (my readers) down and for that I apologize.  I'm looking forward to starting a new year. I'm more than ready for a fresh start on multiple levels. My personal life, my health, my academic life, and my business are all ready to jump start the new year with a rejuvenated dedication to giving everything 110%. The end of the year is always one of my favorite times as a blogger. I enjoy looking back on the year to reflect on what posts you all enjoyed the most, what posts I loved writing and sharing with you, and making a game plan for the upcoming year. 

I hope you enjoy reading my favorite posts from the year! 










October was my month of being a bad blogger. I was so caught up in being a first year teacher that I didn't publish a single post. I had tons of ideas, but I never got around to sitting down for long enough to turn the thoughts I had into words/pictures. 



Reader Favorites:

February:Styling Booties 

June:June Favorites   

SeptemberSeptember Playlist

October: no posts published

November:Life Lately

I hope you come back this upcoming week to join me on my adventure of becoming a better blogger!
Wishing you a fun and safe New Year's Eve!