Spring Break Adventures, Part One

I’m back!

Last week I took a blogging hiatus because Justin and I took off on VACATION! It was spring break for him so I took some time off work and we hit the road and headed south!

We spent the weekend visiting friends in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. Leah, one of my best friends from childhood, and her husband Kraig moved there about a year ago and it was so great to get to visit them and explore the area!

We got into town on Friday night and it just so happened that UNC was playing in the NCAA tournament so Chapel Hill was a happenin’ place! Every restaurant and bar with a TV was packed so since none of us were super invested in the game we decided to just walk up and down Franklin Street (an absolute must-see if you go to Chapel Hill; this strip had so many amazing little shops, restaurants, and bars) and soak up the atmosphere. It was so much fun! There was so much energy and excitement after they won– it made me wish that we lived in a college town again. So fun!

We spent Saturday walking around and exploring Chapel Hill. We hit up several markets and grocery stores (yes, you read that right. I love grocery stores and the fact that Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods were close by was enough to put me in a grocery shopping mood!) and also walked around UNC.

UNC Campus

Justin and I both went to smaller colleges so we were blown away by how huge the campus was! All the buildings were so beautiful and we really enjoyed checking it all out! Justin especially enjoyed getting to sample the water in the drinking fountain under the trademark gazebo. 😉

UNC Chapel Hill UNC Chapel HIll

Sorry about the light streaks; all these pictures were taken on my phone and it doesn’t take good night pictures!

After a day full of walking, we were all super hungry. We decided to eat at the famous Top of the HIll restaurant. We had a pretty long wait to get out on the patio, but it was definitely worth it! The restaurant rooftop is perfectly placed on the corner of a major section of Franklin Street so it has a great view!

Top of the Hill Top of the Hill

The food was so delicious that I scarfed up all my food before I even thought to take a picture! We all four agreed that the food was top notch and the guys loved the house beers they chose. My favorite part was just looking out over Franklin Street and people watching (yep…I’m one of those creepers who love watching other people!)

We also hit up Yogurt Pump after dinner which was the best decision! Their frozen yogurt was the perfect way to top off a great day and I only wish we lived closer so I could further fuel my fro-yo addiction.

Before we knew it, Sunday morning rolled around and we packed our bags, said goodbye to Leah and Kraig, and hit the road to head even further south to Charleston, SC! More on that adventure tomorrow!

***

A few outfit catch-ups from the last few teaching days!

pink cardigan, checked shirt, skinnies, leopard flats, chunky pearls

Cardigan: Target (similar here)~ Checked Shirt: Target (similar here) ~ Navy Ankle Pants: Target (exact here)~ Leopard Flats: Target (exact here) ~ Necklace: Maurices (similar here and here) ~ Renegade Bracelet: Stella Dot (exact here)

blue striped shirt, white jeans, nude pumps, statement necklace

Shirt: Target ~ Jeans: Target (exact here)~ Pumps: Target (exact here) ~ Necklace: Purple Peridot (exact here) ~ Link Bracelet: J. Crew Factory (exact here) ~ Bracelets: Chloe Stack (exact here)

purple cardigan, floral shirt, skinnies, black boots

Cardigan: Old Navy (similar here) ~ Flower cami: Old Navy (exact old) ~ Courduroy skinnies: Old Navy (similar here) ~ Boots: Forever 21 (exact here) ~ Necklace: Lia Sophia (exact here) ~ Earrings: Lia Sophia (exact here)

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March Madness!

One of my favorite times of the year (in the sporting world, that is) is finally heeeeeeeere! First day of SPRING and it’s March Madness!

Now, I would never classify myself as a huge college basketball fan. I really don’t watch much during the regular season, though I am a huge Ohio State fan in all sports so I will occasionally watch a game of theirs. All that being said, I just LOVE the March Madness tournament!

Every year, I fill out two brackets. One is what I call my “coin flip bracket,” where every decision is based on the flip of a quarter (heads = top team wins, tails = bottom team wins). It’s so fun to see how things work out when it’s left purely to chance! I also fill out a “date night” bracket; Justin and I each fill out a bracket and exchange them. At the end of the tournament, whoever had the better bracket gets taken out to dinner by the loser. It’s a fun excuse to go out to eat and have some fun. 🙂 **Sidenote: Justin has beaten me the last two years but I have a good feeling about this year! Time to win a date!!

I have so much fun filling out my bracket that I thought I should incorporate it into my classroom too. Here’s what I did during my planning period today: Using March Madness in the classroomMy students all got really excited when they saw the bracket! I knew it would be a fun thing for them to see and keep track of the tournament with, but then I thought about trying to make this a learning experience too. Turns out, there are a lot of ways to make the bracket fun and educational! Here are a few ideas I came up with:

Making March Madness Work in the Classroom

1. Probability For this one, you have to take rankings out of the equation. I’d phrase a question like: “If all teams had identical records, what is the probability that . . .”

  • “. . . a team from the West wins the tournament?”
  • “. . . a team that begins with an ‘A’ or ‘C’ wins the tournament?”
  • “. . . Ohio State will win the tournament?”
  • “. . . the final match-up will be between Villanova and Arizona?”

Get creative! We did probability with marbles and cards and the students all felt that it wasn’t relevant to their lives. Now is a good time to engage their attention (even if it isn’t truly chance since there are rankings in real life)

2. Statistics Use the records to your advantage! Have the students discuss a particular game (have info up on the board for those who didn’t watch) and figure out a particular player’s statistics. (i.e. “Player B made 5 of 9 shots last night. What was his percentage of made shots?”)

3. Writing assignment Have the students make-up a story about an unbelievable upset (they can pick the teams from the bracket to write about) and have them give specific details using whatever writing strategy you’re currently working on (i.e. using specific adjectives, adding proper nouns, etc)

4. Graphing Have a poll question written on the board (I’m going to let students actually write on the board since they love to do that but you could have them do it by raising their hands). For example, your question could be:

  • “Who do you think will win the whole tournament?”
  • “Who do you think will win the South/East/West/MidWest?”
  • “Which is your favorite team still in the tournament?”

Collect student answers (you can have one student be the recorder as other students raise their hands or you can have them write their answer on the board — perhaps in simple tally form depending on how you worded the question). Then you can work on graphing the student responses in pie charts, bar graphs, etc.

5. Summary writing. Write a ton of statistics from a game that has been played up on the board and have students take that information and write a game re-cap summary. Remind them of important things summaries need (recount highlights and include major details such as the score) and have them make up a quote from a player or coach to include as practice for writing with quotations.

I’m very excited to implement this in my classroom! I’m going to just have a fun poll question on the board each day too so it stays interactive and keeps the students engaged. I think it will be fun! Please let me know if you have any other fun strategies for involving students in March Madness and I’ll gladly add them to my list!

***

Today’s outfit didn’t exactly scream “spring” but when it’s only gonna be a high in the mid-50s, it’s hard to go too crazy.

navy and white stripes, white pants, statement necklaceShirt: TJ Maxx (exact unavailable) ~ Pants: New York & Company (similar here) ~ Flats: Target (exact here) ~ Necklace: Purple Peridot (exact here)

Wedding Wednesday: Decorations, Part 1

Hi there!

I hope you all are having a great week so far! My week seems to be going SO slow; Justin and I leave on Friday after work for a vacation and I am so excited! I have to keep distracting myself so that I don’t focus on time or otherwise this week will seem never-ending. Come on Friday!!

Wedding Wednesday: “Welcome Table” decorations

For today’s Wedding Wednesday post I thought I’d start re-capping some of the decorations we had around our wedding. I should preface this by saying Pinterest became my BFF during the wedding planning and it was definitely reflected in the decorations. Wish I could take all these ideas as mine alone but I took lots of inspiration from others. I still tried to put my own spin on things so that counts for originality points, right? All photographs below are copyright Rothwell Photography.

For today, I’m gonna focus on the things on the tables at what I call the “welcome table.” This was the first thing guests saw: where they were dropped off gifts, signed the guestbook, and got programs! I wanted it to be functional, interesting, and helpful to our guests.

I incorporated chalkboards in a couple different ways. I bought mini chalkboards from a local store and used them as signs to give info to guests.

Wedding Decoration: Simple chalkboard sign for cards

I used one small one in front of a wooden box to tell guests where to leave their cards. (Props to my wedding coordinator for thinking to use extra painted bottles and flowers to spruce up the area. More on the painted bottles in another post!)

Chalkboard sign at wedding

I didn’t ask anyone to hand out programs so I used one chalkboard to instruct guests on what they needed to do. I had a basket with song sheets, another wooden box with programs, and a huge tub with bottled waters for guests to grab before they went on to the ceremony.

Speaking of programs . . .

DIY Wedding Fan Programs DIY Wedding Fan Programs

My amazing sister helped me put together these cute fan programs in the days before the wedding. I used navy and green font and the same tree drawing (which my other amazing sister drew herself!!) that was used on our invitations. Making the fans was super simple! I printed out the programs on cardstock, folded them in half, used spray glue (found here) to attach popsicle sticks to the back of the cardstock, and sealed the fold together. Once the glue had dried, I used a scrapbook corner cutter to round the edges so they looked more polished. Easy! And it was very appreciated by my guests since it was a hot day!

Now on to a few more things!

Also on the welcome table was the guest book.  For this, I found a giant letter “W” (for our last name) at Hobby Lobby and I had a friend paint and distress it using green paint. (Not only was green a wedding color but it’s also a color I use in almost every room of our house so I knew I could use the letter to decorate later!)

Last name initial for guestbook! Last name initial for guest book!

I absolutely loved that we did this! The letter is now hanging up in our living room — the perfect reminder of our special day and all the loved ones who shared it with us!

And speaking of loved ones who shared it with us, there were a lot of loved ones who couldn’t make it to the wedding. Specifically, Justin’s grandparents were both in poor health and lived four hours from our wedding site so they were unable to attend. We wanted to pay respects to them so we put their pictures on a table near the guestbook with a little sign that said “Loved ones celebrating from afar” because we knew they were celebrating in spirit!

Table remembering loved ones who can't make it to your wedding

We also included a picture of Justin’s grandpa, my grandpa, and one of my childhood best friends, all of whom unfortunately passed away long before Justin and I knew one another. We wanted to remember them too so we included a sign that read “loved ones celebrating from above” — it was hard to not have them with us at our wedding but I love knowing they were still watching over us!

And continuing the picture theme, on the other side of the table, we had a grouping of pictures from our ancestor’s weddings. We were lucky enough to find pictures of all of our grandparents at their weddings in addition to our parents. For fun, we also threw in baby photos of the two of us. 🙂

Photos of parents and grandparents weddings on display

I’m glad we had all the photos out because it gave our guests something to look at while waiting in line for the guest book and programs. And it was a great way to pay to tribute to all the marriages that we respect and admire!

And that’s all for now! All of the decorations were super simple and easy — just the way I like it! And none of them took very long to put together except for the fans which did take over an hour to complete.

More decorations to come in the next Wedding Wednesday! Which will not be next week because I’ll be on VACATION!! Whoop whoop!!

***

Today’s outfit was warm weather wishful thinking. Can’t wait to not have to wear cardigans and tights with everything!

black and white dress, cardigan, fun peacock earrings

Dress: Maurices (exact unavailable) ~ Cardigan: Maurices (exact here) ~ Tights: Express (exact here; similar here) ~ Black suede pumps: Target (exact old, similar here and here) ~ Belt: Maurices (exact here) ~ Earrings: Gift from a friend

MY FIRST 5K!!

I am a new woman since y’all last heard from me.

I have now completed my very first race!

This is a big deal for me for several reasons:

1) I absolutely hate running. I have never liked running in any way.

2) I have had three knee surgeries, and my knee problems often limit my ability to run.

3) Even when I have music to listen to, I often find running to be boring and can’t motivate myself to keep going very long.

4) Did I mention I just hate running?

Seriously, though. Running is difficult for me due to all my knee problems and short legs; I am definitely not built for running. I have never enjoyed it and often find it hard to stay motivated to run. I get bored easily and find it hard to mentally focus during a run.

The biggest thing that helped me get through this race was the fact that I did it with a friend.

First 5k Race!

I trained two days a week with my friends Bethany and Lindsay and that was the best thing for me in my training! We would all talk and run which helped keep my mind distracted from any pain or desire to quit running. In addition, I was motivated to keep up with them! I didn’t want to slow them down so I busted my butt to keep moving and not stop running. Even though Lindsay couldn’t make the race, it was great to be able to train with her and Bethany!

The morning of the race I was super nervous, but as soon as I got to the starting line, I got really excited! The energy right before a race is awesome; everyone was so encouraging and just ready to get started! Once the race started I quickly fell into a good running groove and felt great! I loved getting to race amongst so many people; it was so much fun! The worst part of the race was a massive hill around the 2.5 mile marker — I wanted to stop and walk so many times but I just kept pushing myself and I did it! I ran the entire time and was so proud of myself!

Best news? I finished 5th in my age group! Granted, the race itself wasn’t that big but I’m taking what I can get! Bethany finished in 4th and I was so proud of her!

I seriously had so much fun that I think I’ll keep running and try to enter another race! Who knows . . . maybe I’m finally getting the hang of this running thing. 😉

***

No school today so no outfit to share! I did wear a green t-shirt to keep myself from getting pinched though. 🙂 Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Momma B’s Lasagna

It’s finally Friday! (Am I the only one who sings that song regularly on Fridays? I sure hope not!)

I am feeling a bit sore today because yesterday after running a mile for warm-up, my friend Lindsay and I tried a new NikeFit workout called “Dynamic Kettlebell” — it was intense!

Dynamic KettlebellI absolutely love the NikeFit app! This workout was 30 minutes long and kept us engaged the whole time. It worked our legs, butts, abs, and arms in different ways and I am definitely feeling it today! I just hope the soreness doesn’t stick around so I’m ready to go for my 5k race tomorrow. It’s my first ever race and I’m a little nervous; I am in no way a runner but I do love a challenge and I’m excited to participate in this event!

After my workout I was super hungry so I came home and started cooking up a delicious and filling meal — my mom’s famous lasagna! This was an absolute favorite of mine (growing up I requested it for my birthday meal every year) and it is always a crowd pleaser. I thought I’d share it with you today so you too can appreciate my mom’s amazingness. 🙂

Momma B’s Lasagna

Momma B's Lasagna IngredientsIngredients for meat sauce:

-1 pound ground beef

-1 Tbsp parsley flakes

-1 Tbsp basil

-1 1/2 tsp salt

-2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce

-12 oz tomato paste (I use the kind with no salt added; if yours has salt, I recommend not adding the full amount of salt listed above)

Ingredients for cottage cheese layer:

-3 c. cottage cheese

-2 beaten eggs

-2 tsp salt (I usually do a little less)

– 1/2 tsp pepper

-2 Tbsp parsley flakes

Extra ingredients:

-9 lasagna noodles (I use brown rice pasta noodles)

-1 lb mozzerella cheese

-parsley to sprinkle on top

Directions:

1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet and add the rest of the ingredients once you drain the meat. Simmer the mixture until the sauce is thick (approx. 30 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Momma B's Lasagna Meat Sauce2. While the sauce is thickening, boil the lasagna noodles. As the noodles are boiling, pre-heat the oven to 375.

3. Mix together the ingredients listed above for the “cottage cheese layer.” (Not gonna lie, this mixture doesn’t look very appealing but just trust me, it will be worth it!)

Momma B's Lasagna Cottage Cheese Layer4. Rinse the lasagna noodles in a colander. By this time, the sauce should be close to finished.

5. Place 3 noodles on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Next, put half of the cottage cheese mixture on top. It’s okay if the mixture doesn’t actually cover all the noodles; the meat sauce will even it out. (I use a spatula to smooth each layer).

Momma B's Lasagna Layer 16. Add half of the meat sauce on top of the cottage cheese and cover with a layer of mozzerella.

Momma B's Lasagna Layer 2

Momma B's Lasagna Layer 37. Repeat steps 5-6.

8. Top the lasagna with the final three noodles and cover with mozzerella. Sprinkle a bit of parsley on top.

Momma B's Lasagna Top Layer9. Cover the dish with baking foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Momma B's Lasagna Finished10. Enjoy!!

Momma B's Lasagna Slice***

Loved styling my new Stella & Dot bracelet into my casual Friday look!

striped cardigan, long necklace, jeans, nude pumpsCardigan: Bought at consignment store (similar here) ~ Lace Shirt: Express (exact old, similar here) ~ Jeans: American Eagle (similar here) ~ Necklace: Express (old) ~ Renegade Bracelet: Stella Dot (exact here) ~ Arrow Bracelet: Ebay (no longer available)

The after-effects of a Juice Cleanse

Ugh. Today has not been the most fun of days.

After three days of nothing but fruits and veggies (whether in whole form or in juice), my body is not adjusting back to my “normal” food well.

This morning I had a bowl of cereal and skim milk, the same thing I’ve had every morning for the last several months. Normally I love starting my day out with cereal but today I didn’t feel that great afterwards. I kind of missed my refreshing morning juice! Tomorrow I’m definitely going to start my day off with some nice fresh juice.

For lunch I had yogurt with granola, like a normal lunch. I didn’t feel too bad after that, but then I made a mistake. Remember that delicious looking birthday cake my co-worker had yesterday? She saved me a piece and after eating it, I felt horrible. There was so much butter and sugar in it that I felt like sludge afterwards.

This has really made me realize how much food impacts your energy level and regular functioning. Even though I’m off my cleanse, I still need to incorporate lots of fruits and veggies into my everyday eating. And I really need to be careful about the amount of artificial sweeteners I eat. Butter, sugar, chocolate, and oils are things that suck my energy — and they’re not good for me anyways so limiting my intake of them can only be a good thing! 🙂

Tonight I’m making dinner and I think a nice fresh salad sounds like the perfect addition to the meal! I love that I’m actually craving veggies now!

***

Today’s outfit retreated back into winter layers and colors because it SNOWED last night and is cold again. I’m officially done with cold weather!

black cardigan, purple tank, black pinstripe pantsBlack cardigan: Express (exact old, similar here and here) ~ Purple tank: Express (exact old) ~ Black cami layered underneath: Express (exact here, similar here) ~ Pinstripe pants: Express (exact old, similar here) ~ Black beaded necklace: Premier Jewelry (exact old, similar here)

Wedding Wednesday: Operation Honeymoon!

First and foremost, today marks the last day of my 3-day juice cleanse!!

In the first two days of the cleanse, I made a huge juice in the morning and split it between breakfast and lunch. Yesterday, however, I was craving some change so I made a smaller juice for breakfast and then a different juice for lunch.

My breakfast juice was DELICIOUS! I’m going to call this my Peaches & Cream Morning Juice 🙂

Peaches & Cream Breakfast Juice

Ingredients:

-1 large handful of kale

-2 peaches

-10-12 strawberries

-1 banana

-a sprinkling of chia seeds (I added these to the juice afterwards)

This was probably one of my favorite juices so far — I stuck it in the freezer for about 20 minutes before leaving the house and it froze just enough to taste like a delicious smoothie! YUM!

For lunch, I made a greener juice.

Green Lunch Juice

Ingredients:

-2 handfuls spinach

-1 handful kale

-1/2 cucumber (I am not a huge fan of the cucumber taste in juice and I didn’t want it to be overwhelming. If you love cucumber, you could use the whole thing)

-1 pear

-1 apple (wish I had green apples for a true “green” juice!)

This juice was pretty good as well, although not as delectable as the morning juice. By lunchtime, I was just craving real food! While I wasn’t hungry (an 8 oz. juice is actually very filling!) I missed the texture of different types of foods. It didn’t help that it was my co-worker’s birthday and I had to stare at this all day long:

Temptation!

Yeah. It was brutal! I had to watch everyone eat it while munching on carrot sticks at my desk.

Yet another carrot

Pathetic, I know.

After a quick workout at the gym, it was time to head home and freshen up for DINNER. A real live dinner!! We went over to our friends’ house where they had prepared a feast!

First meal!!

My friend Kristen was the one who initially suggested doing the cleanse and we were both salivating watching her husband prepare lemon alfredo chicken pasta and perfectly steamed broccoli! This meal was perfection and it was definitely worth the wait!

A few tips for anyone considering a juice fast:

-Listen to your body! I tried a 3 mile run the first day of the cleanse and that was a mistake — my body was still adjusting at that point and I wish I would have done a lighter workout.

-Incoroporate whole fruits and veggies. I never would have survived on just juice so I munched on bananas, strawberries, and carrots in between meals.

-Do it with a partner! Kristen and I both admitted we would have cheated many times had we not known there was someone there to keep us accountable. We were both really proud of ourselves for sticking with it and not cheating or giving up!

While I’m actually glad I had this experience, I think I’ll stick to juicing just once a day for the time being. 🙂

Wedding Wednesday: Operation Honeymoon!

About this time last year, my workout routine was getting more and more intense to prepare for the wedding! There are few things more motivating to get your butt to the gym than knowing you’re going to stand in front of 200+ people in a form-fitting dress and have pictures in it that last a lifetime! Also motivating is knowing you’ll frolic on the beach in a bikini the next week on your honeymoon. Needless to say, I was working hard! I found that having an actual plan for my workout helped me adequately rotate muscle groups and make sure I was getting a good mix of strength training and cardio. I even created a workout chart I called “Operation Honeymoon” to help motivate me! I wrote down everything I wanted to do each day (i.e. Monday: 60 minute kickboxing class; Tuesday: 2 mile run, 30 minutes arms strength training; Wednesday: 30 minutes on bike, 30 minutes legs strength training, etc). My plan was for 6 days a week and I tried to keep mixing up what I did so I never got into a workout rut. I was really thankful for all my hard work once my wedding day came! There is nothing quite like feeling fabulous and fit on your wedding day! 🙂

If you are getting married and want to get in shape (or just want to have a healthy workout plan), I highly recommend created an actual physical plan of what you want to do each day. It helps keep you accountable and also gives you and idea of what you need to work on each time you go to the gym!

***

Today’s outfit was filled with bright colors because it’s finally sunny and warm! (Never mind that it’s supposed to snow tomorrow…)

coral shirt with turquoise jewelry

 V-neck shirt: Old Navy (similar here) ~ Lace cami: Express (similar here and here) ~ Khaki pants: Maurices (similar here) ~ Leopard Flats: Target (exact here) ~ Necklace: Premier Jewelry (exact old)