New Year’s Resolutions – 6 Month Check-In

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I can’t believe it, but it is already July. Time for my six month check-in on my New Year’s resolutions (or maybe more appropriately called – The Months When It All Fell Apart!) Click over first to my 4 month check-in and my 2 month check-in so you are all caught up.

Are you back?  Ok – let’s see how I’m doing. I am all for being accountable – so even though these were not the best months for sticking to my resolutions – I am still writing this post.

BE HEALTHY

Weight Watchers Update: I’m still on the WW program, currently in week 27. I switched from the weight loss program to the maintain program after losing a total of 22 pounds. (Full disclosure: I did gain 1 pound one week.) I continued to meal prep every Sunday throughout the school year. Now I have more time to cook each day. I am still eating a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and chicken. But, I am eating more ice cream and drinking more wine! I’m trying to remember my portions and not to over indulge when allowing for a treat.

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Coffee Update: This one has really gone down hill for me!  At the end of the school year I was buying a second cup of coffee a few times a week. I am still brewing a pot at home each morning, but pretty regularly, I pour more than one cup. Here I am enjoying a second cup while reading Amy Poehler’s hilarious “Yes, Please.”

MyCCL_readingwithcoffee

Exercise:  Do you really even need to ask?? I’m still not exercising. Insert sad emoji face here.

Once a teacher, always a teacher, so I will grade myself.

For my first resolution of BE HEALTHY, I am giving myself a:
C

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

Date Night Updates: My husband and I have not gone on any more date nights since my last update. We are hoping to plan a few this summer!  

Quality Family Time Updates:  We are still eating as a family at dinner time and now that Olivia and I are done school, at lunch time, too. Warmer weather always allows for more together time outside and we have been taking advantage of that to the fullest.  

“Me” Time Updates: I am sleeping in a little more now (No need to get up at 4:30am when I don’t need to go to work!) I am still getting up 45 minutes of “me” time at some point throughout the day, whether in the evenings or when Olivia goes to camp in the morning.  

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Remember the big stack of books from the 2 month check-in?  I have started three different books from my list and have not finished any of them!  BUT, since starting “the life changing magic of tidying up,” I have gotten rid of 8 bags of trash, 10 donations bags and an additional 6 bags to go to my school in the fall!!

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“My Life, Unplugged” Update:  This one is a draw for the past two months. In May, I was constantly on my laptop, finishing grades, transferring all my data off my work computer before I had to turn it in for the summer, and all of the million end of the year teacher things one needs to do. Once summer started though, I have been totally unplugged. Off the computer, off my phone, and not even that much TV (minus binge watching Orange is the New Black.)  

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For my second resolution of BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, I am giving myself a:
C+

So, not my strongest showing at a resolution check-in!

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?  How are you doing on the six month check-in? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Next follow up will be on September 1st.  Have a great day and thanks for reading.

My Friday Favorites 06.19.15

FF pink green brown

On TV – Many people have been glued to Netflix for the past week binge watching Season 3 of Orange is the New Black, myself included. A lot was packed into the thirteen episode season including the sale of the prison, more backstories, a baby, a new intriguing inmate, trouble for Sophia, and Piper’s new business. The only disappointment? Waiting another year for more episodes.

orange-is-the-new-black_season 3

On the Page – Real Simple July 2015  Just looking at the cover with that ice cream cone makes you want to open the magazine! It also includes great recipes and tips – all the reasons you love Real Simple. 

Real Simple_July 2015

On the Computer – Here is a great blog I recently found through twitter: Party Bluprints. Check out some great 4th of July Party ideas

cranberry_lemonade_bar_from Party Bluprints

In the Kitchen- Check out this delicious recipe that will be perfect on a hot day at the pool: Watermelon Granita from Lemon Stripes 

Watermelon-Granita_ from Lemon Stripes

On the To-Do List – In the Philadelphia area? We saw this play this week and our whole family loved it! This is the last weekend of performances so get your tickets fast! Arden Theatre Company’s The Jungle Book 

thejunglebook_ardentheatrecompany

For the Fathers- Need gift ideas?  Check out Godiva, Sports Illustrated, and Crate and Barrel

Happy Father's Day

 

Happy Friday! Hope you have a great weekend and Father’s Day. For everyone who finished school this week, happy summer!  Leave me a comment and let me know what your Friday Favorites are. Thanks for reading.

My Friday Favorites 06.05.15

My Friday Favorites

On TV –  I’ve been re-watching Season 2 of Orange is the New Black in preparation for Season 3 which will be released on Netflix on June 12. Good news, Larry, Jason Biggs’ character will not be in this upcoming season, but bad news, neither will Pablo Schreiber’s Officer Mendez character. Other summer shows starting in June: The Astronaut Wives on June 18, Season 5 of Suits on June 24. Check out Esquire Magazine’s  TV Shows Premiering Summer 2015 That You Should Watch

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In the Kitchen-  Through Pinterest, I found this Roasted Asparagus recipe from She Wears Many HatsThe only switch I made to the recipe was grilling the asparagus on the outdoor grill inside of roasting in the oven. It was delicious! Here are pictures of my attempts of this recipe.  

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prepped and marinating

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For more of my favorite green recipes check out my Pinterest Board:
Veggies and Salads 

On the To-Do List – 57 Free Things to do With Kids In Philly Summer 2015Summer vacation is about to start. Print this and start checking your adventures off. 

For the Parenting ToolboxNo, Your Kid May Not Have a Snack by Amanda Kolson Hurley in The Chicago Tribune. A great read about the sometimes obsessive compulsive thing called parenthood. 

No Your Kid May Not Have a Snack

On Instagram – One of  Essie’s summer colors – Mojito Madness featured on TargetStyle.

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On the Bookshelf – After a lot of buzz these past few weeks, I bought the life changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo.  Can’t wait to read it cover to cover.

the life changing magic of tidying up

For the Teacher – End of the school year is here and there are a lot of ways to thank your child’s teacher. Thanks to Sweet Metel Moments for these “One Smart Cookie” notecards. We printed them out, glued them to gift bags, and included Milano cookies for my daughter’s teachers. I found this idea from a great roundup post of Teacher Appreciation Ideas from Baby to Boomer.

One-Smart-Cooking-Teacher-Appreciation-Printable

Hope you had a fabulous week. Leave me a comment and let me know what your Friday Favorites are. Thanks for reading.

Helpful Hump-Day Hints – Buying Toy Collections

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Some of you with a good eye saw there was something else in my purse that I didn’t describe in this week’s Practical Packing post. That’s because I was saving it for now. Today’s Helpful Hump-Day Hint will help you remember what toys your kids already have when you are out trying to buy gifts. In today’s toy world everything is all about collecting. Gone are the days of one doll or character. No! They have a brother or a sister or a cousin or evil step-mother or fancy dragon – and you must buy them all! Or, they are exactly the same but just in every color of the rainbow. Plus the extra outfits, castle, and car!  Sometimes I can barely remember what my daughter likes playing with these days, let alone what’s already in her Toys R Us, I mean, her room.

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Under the Altoids box is something I always keep in my purse now. I buy gifts for Christmas and birthdays all year long.  If it’s on sale, I buy it and store it away until the gift giving day arrives. I found myself never knowing what items my daughter already had in whatever series she was collecting. The last time she received a My Little Pony, I had this idea when opening the package.

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I asked my daughter to line up the My Little Ponies she has. She loved this. Next, I cut off the top of the wrapping and checked off all the ponies she already owns. Lastly, I tucked this into my purse.

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Now when I’m at the store and I see one of these on sale, I pull out this little card to see what ponies she has and which ones she doesn’t. I wonder if Santa does this? Do you have any tricks or hints on how to keep track of toys? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks for reading!

Practical Packing Part 3 – The Purse

This is the third installment of the Practical Packing Series, to catch up you can read the previous posts here.

Today we are going to talk about your purse. Just to clarify, your everyday, going to work, really big purse. I think the key to carrying around “everything you own” is to compartmentalize with smaller bags within your big purse. Here is a look into mine. There is enough room for my laptop, but you can see there are several smaller bags inside, too.

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Here are all the contents emptied out. Taking these pictures felt a little bit like US Weekly magazine’s celebrity What’s in Your Bag? articles, except my lipgloss is $5 not $95. Besides my laptop, I always have a notebook, my wallet, my second wallet (more on that later,) my charger / accessories bag, and a reusable shopping bag. The two side pockets hold deodorant and my work ID and key card that let me into the building.

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The lemon case is my primary wallet.  I keep my essential credit cards, license, and cash in it.  It also has room for my phone. The side not shown of the lemon wallet case is a see through window for when you do put your phone inside. I also keep my mother’s St. Francis’ mass card here. When I need to stop somewhere to shop, the big purse with the computer goes in the trunk and I just grab this smaller wallet. I can carry it right on my wrist. There is a matching reusable bag folded in a pouch I can grab too if I am just picking up a few things.

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My wallet used to be so weighed down with store specific rewards cards. I used to carry the smaller versions on my keychain, but it made my keys very bulky and it started driving me crazy. Now I use this secondary wallet that contains non-everyday wallet items. This includes store rewards cards, pool ID badge, and my daughter’s ABC club card at our food coop, Weaver’s Way.  If she shows her card she gets one free apple, banana, or carrot. She loves it and so do I!

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The charger / accessories bag contains iPhone and iPad chargers, earphones, Tide-to-Go pen, glasses, lip gloss, my favorite pen, and Altoids or gum.

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Wondering where I keep my keys? I can’t stand when keys fall to the bottom of a bag and you have to stand around digging through all of your belongings to find them. I have a crown hook I attached to my keys.

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The hook attaches to the side of your purse and you will never have to hunt for your keys again. may-9912

Disclaimer: I used to always throw my makeup bag into my purse everyday. Then I realized…I don’t touch up my makeup EVER during the work day. Besides the lip gloss I keep in the charger / accessory bag – what you see is what you get throughout the work day! Only exception is if I know I’m going out after work, I will toss my makeup bag into my big bag. Here is my Orla Kiely makeup bag. I LOVE her designs, so much in fact, that my family got my sister the entire Orla Kiely yoga line from Target for her upcoming big 5-0 birthday this week. Shout out to my sister Diane!

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Practical Packing Part 4 will be all about kids’ backpacks.

Leave a comment and let me know how you pack your purse. Is there something you always feel you have to carry around all day, but then never use? What are the three things you will not leave the house without? Thanks for stopping by and reading.

My Friday Favorites 05.29.15

FF apples grn

On TV –  We are currently in the “in-between weeks” for TV.  I finally watched the season finales of Law and Order SVU, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD.  Detective Erin Lindsay – what, what, what are you doing?? I wish Sassy Gay Friend was her friend.  There were so many things she did in this episode that I thought was completely out of character.  I’m glad Sophia Bush struggled with it too. For her take, read her interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Chicago_PD_Season_Two_Finale

On the Page – HGTV Magazine’s June issue – I was excited to see that my lime green and turquoise paper lanterns I hang on my patio made the cover of this issue!  The whole magazine is screaming summer from the color palettes, the patio and outdoor decor, the flea market flips, and the featured tiny beach houses.  

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For the Home – 8 Cleaning Mistakes You’re Probably Making from Real Simple.  I’m doing 4 out of these 8 things! Time to switch up some of my cleaning routines.

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In the Kitchen-  10 Fruits and Vegetables You are Storing Wrong from The Washington PostApparently this is the week to expose all my mistakes!  I’m storing 5 out of 10 wrong! I was so glad to see this article this week because I am trying to get my fresh produce to last as long as possible.

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On the To-Do List – In Philadelphia this weekend, The Oval is opening. On their event calendar from May 30 – June 6 is the Future Sensations touring exhibit by Saint-Gobain, the world’s largest building materials company. This touring exhibition is stopping only in Shanghai, China; São Paulo, Brazil; Paris, France; and Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Future _ Sensations_Saint-Gobain

On the Bookshelf – 26 of the Hottest New Books You’ll Want to Read This Summer from PopSugarLots of favorite authors are coming out with new novels this summer, just in time to throw them in your beach bag, including Candace Bushnell, Jennifer Weiner, Jackie Collins, and Judy Blume.

26 of the Hottest New Books You'll Want to Read This Summer

Have a great weekend.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you are loving this week.  What are you watching, reading, and doing?  Thanks for reading.

Summer Cocktails – Sangria

It’s Thirsty Thursday, so here is a great summer cocktail recipe.

Red Wine Sangria 

1 kiwi, 1 orange, 1 mango, 10 strawberries, 20 blueberries

ANY fruit can be used in this drink.  To save time, look at the precut and packaged mixed fruit containers in the produce section of the supermarket.  Pick the fruit that looks the freshest – and throw it in the pitcher!

1 Dole can pineapple chunks in pineapple juice
1 Dole can tropical fruit in light syrup and passion fruit juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Cointreau (or any orange liqueur will do)
1/3 cup coconut flavored rum
2 cups orange juice
1 bottle of red wine – I like a shiraz, but any will do! (don’t use the good stuff, cheap is fine!)
1 can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
lemon-lime seltzer water

Slice the orange, kiwi, and strawberries, put in a pitcher. Add the blueberries, can of pineapple chunks with the juice, tropical fruit with juice and sugar. Pour in the orange liqueur, rum, and orange juice. Stir. Let sugar dissolve.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

IMG_3919Add the red wine and pink lemonade concentrate.

Serve over ice, spoon fruit into each glass and add the chilled lemon-lime seltzer to the top.

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Helpful Hump-Day Hints – Gift Cards

For the longest time, whenever I received a gift card as a present in a greeting card, I always “saved the card” so I wouldn’t lose the gift card. Then I had all these piles of greeting cards in different places, some in my desk, some in my bedside table, and some in the living room. I never had a good system. I was constantly trying to remember what stores I had gift cards to and over the years would end up paying at a store that I had a gift card for, simply because I couldn’t find it somewhere in my house, in the original greeting card it came in. Today’s Helpful Hump-Day Hint will help you organize your gift cards so you can locate them easily and save money!

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Here is my Gift Card Drawer. It is a small drawer located in an antique hutch that I have in my living room, right at the front door. It’s perfect because it is small, so I don’t put anything else in this drawer (except my Christmas money envelope.) Now whenever anyone in our family receives a gift card, it goes directly in the drawer. Yes, I have a lot of gift cards! It is something my family gives each other, because let’s face it, no one really needs more stuff.  If I see a gift that jumps out at me as something a friend or family member would love, I’ll buy it.  If not, it’s a gift card that I know they will use when they need something. The best part about the gift card drawer is it’s location to the front door. I walk by it every time I leave the house to shop. I grab my purse and keys, look through the gift card drawer to see if I have any for the stores I am going to and I’m off  – and saving money.

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Sometimes I try to make different piles, but I admit, this does not always stay organized.  If we are saving up for a project in the house, we will keep track of Home Depot cards and regular Visa gift cards so we know how much we have to spend on supplies for the project.  Other than that, it’s like Christmas morning in the drawer!

Once I use a gift card, if the balance is zero, I always ask the cashier to throw the card away for me.  I’m not a “reloader.”  I never do it and I hate having cards that I am not sure if they don’t have any money on it.  If there is a balance, I write the amount on the back of the card with a sharpie or a ball point pen. Sometimes it is hard to write on the card, then I use a small post-it note. If I get more than two uses out of a card, I keep crossing off the balance and writing the new one directly on the card or use a new post-it.  Each time I get home, the card goes back in the drawer. Sometimes this is an end of the week ritual, emptying my wallet and putting cards back.

How do you organize your gift cards? Do you have a system in place that works for you?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  Thanks for reading!

Practical Packing Part 2 – The Bathroom Bag

As I mentioned last week, I am reposting my Practical Packing Series to help you get organized for your summer trips and vacations. If you did not read Practical Packing Part 1, read that first, and then come back.

Ok, so you are now up to speed and we are ready to talk about packing your bathroom bag. I bought this from Target years ago and I really love it. It has enough room for everything you need, is easy to carry, and came with two matching cases, one for jewelry, the other for make-up. Once you zip it close, you can see it has a handle.

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There are three compartment. My essentials are shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, razor, hand/body lotion, hair ties, lint brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, Q-tips, and a plastic bag (which I use for anything that may be wet on the day I am packing to leave.)

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I always pack travel size everything for the bathroom. But, I only stock up on travel size items when I am NOT going away. This is because I try to avoid unnecessary extra expenses when I am about to take a trip. You already need to fill your gas tank, pay for lodging, and you will be eating out more; so an extra $30-$50 trip to CVS that week isn’t the greatest timing. Save that money and do something fun with your family on your trip! When you aren’t going away, peruse the travel-size aisle and stock up on any items you use that are on sale for $1 or less. My daughter received a rubber-duckie and bath toys in this plastic pouch. I saved it because I knew it would be a perfect place to collect all my travel size items. This lives in our linen closet. When it’s time to start packing, I shop in my linen closet, not a drugstore.

may-9926Next week … Practical Packing Part 3 will be all about your purse!

Leave a comment and let me know about your packing rituals.  Bathroom items you must bring?  Something you always feel compelled to pack, but then never use? Thanks for stopping by and reading.

My Friday Favorites 05.22.15

FF BLUE AND GREEN DIAMONDS

On TV –  This is an obvious one this week as we said good bye to some of the best characters TV has ever seen. Mad Men’s last episode truly was the end of an era. Highlights included the the three “person to person” phone calls Don made to the most significant women in his life Sally, Betty, and Peggy (note: not Megan.) Next, Pete’s goodbye scene to Peggy with just enough awkward banter mixed with silent pauses, a cactus exchange, and no mention of the baby (rightly so.) Roger writing his son with Joan into his will and telling her he is marrying someone he met “through Megan Draper.”  The snapshot of Sally washing dishes while Betty smoked a cigarette at the table was a full circle moment for the entire series and made me want a Sally Draper spin-off even more than ever.  Of course, the image that will certainly become iconic in television history is the sly, almost devilish smile that crossed Don’s face as he meditated on the hillside and envisioned one of the most popular ad campaigns ever to exist.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Mad Men _ Season 7, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Courtesy of AMCFor the Home – I’ve been looking for ways to update my entryway and hall closet to make the space more functional. Real Simple’s 5 Ways to Fake a Mudroom has some great ideas. 

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For Dessert – The weather is getting warmer and I always want to get ice cream! Check out these tips from Weight Watchers so you are making smart decisions when choosing your delicious cold treats. Sorbet is the way to go with Points Value Plus of 2 vs Custard (my favorite) which is 6 Points Value Plus.

wwmag_frozen treats

On the Sales Rack – These colorful aqua, yellow and green crates are on sale this weekend at The Land of the Nod. They match My Color-Coded Classroom perfectly and I can’t wait to use them to help my end of the year organization process.

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For the Classroom – Speaking of end of the year organization in your classroom – check out Ten Things to Think About as You Pack Up Your Classroom from Scholastic.

On the Bookshelf –  Just in time to make your summer reading list: Oyster Books’s list of The 100 Best Books of the Decade So Far 

Oyster Books_100 best books so far

On Instagram – Country Living just took your summer camp fire up a notch!

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Happy Friday everyone, have a great long weekend!  Leave me a comment and let me know what your Friday Favorites are this week. (I bet if you comment on this post you have a REALLY good chance of winning the comment contest!)  Thanks for reading!