Time to get fancy!

This weekend Justin and I got to attend a formal gala for his medical school. We are so not fancy people and prefer to lounge around the house in our sweatpants (which we may or may not be doing right now as I type this . . .) but it was fun to get dressed up and have a special night out!

Before taking off to the gala, we met up with some friends to take pictures.

P1040869 My handsome date and I. (Side note: I got my dress from a store called D.E.B. in the spring during prom dress season. As soon as I saw it on the rack, I knew it would be perfect for this evening!)

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Aren’t my friends absolutely gorgeous!? The color-coordinating was totally unplanned by the way. Black and red seemed to be the popular colors at this event!

The event took place at a breathtakingly beautiful luxury resort. After sitting down to a delicious meal (various types of pasta, shrimp, roast turkey, vegetables, fruit, and tons of delicate macaroons and tarts for dessert!), we danced for a while and then took off to explore the resort. The rooms seemed never ending and they were all just so grand! There were luxurious bars, cozy seating areas, marble floors, huge windows, and elegant ballrooms. I felt like a princess roaming her castle. And the place was already decorated for Christmas which just made it even more stunning.

 

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I love this picture of my friends! They got tired and sat down in these chairs in a hallway and I snapped a picture quick. How cool is the lighting? So warm and cozy!

We also hit up the casino in the basement. Justin and I are not gamblers at all, but we decided to have some fun with it and agreed to spend $20 and just see what happened.

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We split it and each took $10. Justin lost everything on one bid in roulette, and I decided to try out a slot machine. I ended up winning $82!  Technically I only got $62 because we spent $20 but it was so much fun!

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We had a GREAT night! Now off to cozy up next to my love (in our comfy sweatpants) and watch The Voice. The gala was fun, but I can’t get enough of special time at home with my hubby–no fancy dress needed!

***

For today’s outfit, I wanted to keep it classic. Black is hard to mess up and I just love the texture of this jacket!

11-04 Outfit

Jacket: Maurices

Cami: Express

Black Dress Pants: Express

Wedge shoes: Target

Necklace: Premier Jewelry

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Halloween Procrastination

I am way late on yesterday’s blog post! After school, I hit the ground running with preparations for the Halloween party Justin and I are throwing tonight. After several trips to the dollar store (and, I confess, I even caved and went to Wal-Mart), I had plenty of decorations and ingredients for everything I needed!

Two things I love are the holidays and hosting people at my house. Put them together and I am one happy girl; however, the night before the hosted holiday party, I’m typically one stressed-out girl. This is mostly because I tend to procrastinate. One way I tried to cut out the most stress this time was with food preparation. Our party is after dinner so I knew I just wanted finger food and treats. My requirements for the food were: quick (due to procrastination), easy, budget-friendly, and able to be made ahead of time! I’m a bit of a procrastinator, so waiting until the day before limited my options, but I’m happy with the results!

Final Treat Collage

Let’s be honest. As much as I love things to look cute and festive, I also know my limits as far as time and skill. Decorated cupcakes and cookies look so great (and relatively simple) in pictures, but I know I just do not have six hours to figure how how to decorate them and then actually do the decorating. As as for the intricate decorations, my skill level would fall embarrassingly short. The simple process with making these treats was much more my speed.

Final Oreo Collage

I started with Oreo “mummies.” If you are an Oreo freak like me, these are going to be right up your alley.

Step 1: I purchased a package of Oreos (double-stuf of course!) and vanilla candy coating.

Step 2: Follow the directions on the package to melt the candy coating. For me, this meant heating for one minute, stirring, and heating for 15 more seconds. Then I dropped an Oreo in the goo and used a spoon to cover it with the coating.

Step 3: I lifted the Oreos out with a toothpick (to let the extra coating drip off) and placed them on parchment paper to cool and harden.

Step 4: I used white cookie icing and drew it back and forth to make the “mummy” wrap. I then put mini chocolate chips on each cookie for the eyes.

Step 5: Let the mummies completely cool and harden before storing.

See? Quick and easy!

I also employed a similar tactic to make super simple “ghost” cookies.

Final Ghost Collage

This time I did the same thing, but with Nutter Butter cookies. I added the mini chocolate chips to make eyes and a mouth. I think this could also be easily adjusted to make snowmen cookies at Christmastime!

From start to finish, this whole project took about an hour to make tons of cookies. The candy coating cools quickly and once they were cooled, I just put them all in an airtight container so they’re ready to go for tonight! I’m so excited! And the whole thing cost under $15. Yes!

Have a happy Halloween!

***

Yesterday was so chaotic I had to just snap a quick photo at school.  It was an Express kind of day 🙂

10-30 Outfit

Sweater: Express

Ruffle Tank: Express

Cream Pencil Skirt: Express

Peep-toe Pumps: Lulu Townsend

Necklace: New York & Co.

I may as well post today’s outfit too since tonight will be party time! Since it’s Halloween, we were allowed to dress up. Comfy scrubs all day? Yes please!

Doctor

Label-less scrubs: From my husband’s closet 🙂

Cheap Fidget Tools

I don’t know about you, but I love a good deal. As a special education teacher, I especially love good educational deals!

The other day, I was at the dollar store looking for balloons. My quest took me to the party aisle, where I happened to notice all the cheap party favors they had. That’s when I saw them. Squishy balls! Three for $1.00! A lightbulb went off in my brain and I immediately knew how I was going to put them to use. I bought six packs for a total of eighteen squishy balls and took them all to school. I opened all the packs, put the balls in an empty notecard container, and voila!

Squishy Balls

A class set of fidget tools!

I teach in a middle school, and one class that I co-teach in has a lot of students who struggle with attention. While a few students do have ADHD or other types of sensory processing disorders, most just simply have to stay busy or they get bored. Boredom = lots of extra pencil tapping, talking to a neighbor, fidgeting in their seat, or (in extreme cases) falling asleep. The class was getting out of control! I had thought about using fidget tools before, but I simply didn’t have enough for everyone that needed one. I knew the students would complain about “fairness” if they didn’t all have the same thing but buying 18 similar fidget tools was going to get expensive quick! This was the perfect solution. I got enough foreveryone in the class and passed them out at the beginning of class. I’ve been amazed at how just having something small in his or her hand to play with in a non-disruptive way can really help a student focus! I collect them at the end of class and they’re ready to go for the next day. This has made a big difference in keeping noise level down and helping students stay focused. $6.00 well spent!

After this success, I rooted around in my fidget tool box and dug out a lot of other items that I’ve found over the years at dollar stores. Here’s a quick list of some of the things I have found nice and cheap:

Fidget Tools Pic

-textured pencil grips or eraser tops

-squishy balls

-firmer “porcupine” balls

-mini Slinkys

-mini rubber balls

-mini Play-Doh (or other brands of craft dough) packages

-hacky sacks (I confess I did not buy these but my husband had several from childhood. They can be found online for under $2 though!)

-rubber poppers

-string of Mardi Gras beads

-yarn (sometimes it’s as simple as having a piece of yarn to fiddle with!)

-coiled bracelets (sometimes they come as keychains)

-pipe cleaner

-rubber bands/silly bands

-mini koosh balls (the kind with the rubber-like strings)

-silly putty

The list goes on and on! I have found the most helpful aisles to be the party aisle and craft aisle. Be creative! Finding good tools to help your students concentrate does not have to be complicated and it does not have to be expensive! All of these items can be found for under $3. I also collect stress balls at every chance I get–many companies use them as promotional items so they are f-r-e-e! Doesn’t get better than that!

**A quick note: I make sure my students know my fidget tool rules before I give them one. The rules are:

1- Your fidget tool does not leave your hand unless it is sitting on your desk.

2- You may only use one hand with your fidget tool. The other must be working (writing, using a calculator, following along on the page, etc).

3- Do not throw your fidget tool.

4- If you are unable to work and/or listen to the teacher when you have your fidget tool, then you lose it for the day. It is there to help you only and it is a privilege to have one, not a right.

Enjoy a fidget-free (or at the least, reduced!) classrroom!

***

Today’s school outfit was based on neutral shades. I did add some jewelry after this but didn’t have time to take another picture. Quick and easy look for fall!

10:29 Outfit

T-shirt dress: Express

Black leggings: Express

Boots: CL by Laundry

Three Words: Apple Cider Donuts

Today was one of those Mondays where I woke up in disbelief that my weekend was over. Okay, truthfully, this happens nearly every Monday, but today was especially so! This weekend FLEW by!

Justin had a study-free weekend and since that rarely happens, we decided to take advantage by road-tripping to Charlottesville, VA to visit some friends. We have several friends who live in the city and we don’t often get to see them so it was a treat to spend the whole weekend catching up!

Some highlights:

-Taking Macie to her very first dog park (She LOVED it! She ran the whole time and was the star of the show; the dogs all flocked to her puppy energy! And I had two people tell me and I quote: “She is the cutest puppy I have ever seen!” I was one proud mama!!)

-My first time ever inside a Trader Joe’s (I think I’m in love.)

-Made homemade pizza with friends (One of our friends is pregnant and pizza is her craving! How fun!)

-Annual trip to Carter’s Mountain Orchard!

If you are ever in the Charlottesville area in the fall, you simply must check this place out. It is a GORGEOUS orchard on top of a mountain! You can walk down the mountain into the orchard on both sides and the view is incredible.

Orchard

This picture does not even do it justice at all!

After getting our bags, we made a beeline to the Pink Lady trees (my favorite!) Unfortunately, by this late in October, many of the trees have no apples within reach anymore so Justin and I employed some married teamwork to get the yummy ones at the top of the trees!

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As you can see we do not mess around. And it was worth it when we got perfectly pinkish-red apples! Yes!! We also got some Jonagolds which were also delicious! And since it was all outdoors, dogs were allowed to go in the orchard. Macie loved it!

Before leaving, we had to take our “annual” family pumpkin picture! We were actually at Carter’s over the same weekend (with the same friends!) last year. Justin and I took a picture in front of a giant pumpkin painting and we decided to make it a tradition and take a picture again this year.  Now I guess we will just have to go back next year and take another one!

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It was a lot colder this year, hence the winter coats! But I love seeing how our family has changed; now we’re married with the “cutest puppy ever!”

Speaking of love, Carter’s Mountain also has little stores at the top. One of them is a bakery and they sell APPLE. CIDER. DONUTS. My life is completely changed. Delicious! I forgot to take a picture of ours this year, so a picture of last year’s will have to suffice. Although it should be noted that this year we upgraded from a half dozen to a full dozen. Yum!

Donuts

And yes, my man was rocking mutton chops last year. We went to a country concert later that day so it was fitting. Love that guy!

As fun as our trip was, it went way too fast! I’m already looking forward to our next visit!

***

Since today was one of those “I can’t believe it’s already Monday” days, I went for a simple, comfy look. You can’t go wrong with a classic v-neck sweater and understated jewelry! Since I didn’t have time to take a picture this morning (may have slept in a bit too long!) I had to take a mirror selfie in the gym locker room before my workout after school. Classy, huh?

Outfit #1

Sweater: Express

Layering Tank: Mossimo (Target)

Dress Pants: T.B.A.

Shoes: Maurices

Monogramed necklace: Lia Sophia

Operation Stress-free Christmas Card Picture: Step #1

Today, a very exciting package came in the mail!

Macie Hat #2

A puppy Santa hat for Macie!

This past weekend, a few friends and I drove to a nearby city for an overnight girls’ shopping trip/weekend away. (It was SO nice to get some quality girl-time in . . . and of course, score some major deals!) As we were browsing one of the many stores, one of the girls picked out coordinating outfits for herself and her husband and casually mentioned they’d probably wear them for Christmas card pictures.

Pause. What? People are thinking about Christmas? Didn’t fall just begin?

Truth is, I’m a bit of a procrastinator and had my friend not said something, Christmas card pictures wouldn’t have even crossed my mind for about another month. Then it would have taken me a week or two to decide what to do and at least another week to get it done. I’d be lucky to get the cards out by Christmas eve! The  whole thing would be rushed and stressful, and I’d probably be dissatisfied with the results.

Not gonna happen this year! I’m inspired to “simplify the [upcoming] chaos” by planning ahead! Let Operation Stress-free Christmas Card Picture begin!

All my enthusiasm aside, I have no delusions that I’ll be able to pull off something glamourous. I see all the adorable Christmas card pictures where the couple is wrapped up cozily in Christmas lights (J & I would just look like a tangled mess) or is having a cute snowball fight and still looking picture perfect (My face gets ridiculously red in the cold so I’d look like Rudolph). Then I realized that J and I don’t need to do anything spectacular because we have a spectacularly cute puppy who can steal all the limelight and be adorable enough for us all!

Macie Hat #1

Cue Santa hat! (Bonus that is was only $2.99 plus shipping!) Now I just have to get her to like wearing the hat so it will stay on long enough for a picture. So far, she’s up to keeping it on for about 1.2 seconds. Anyways, I consider this a significant success on Step #1 of Operation Stress-free Christmas Card Picture. Yes!

***

Last week, I posted about re-vamping spring clothing to give it new life for the fall/winter. Even though I did score some new clothing on the shopping spree, I’m still digging out spring clothes and giving them new life. It’s actually fun to find new ways to wear things and it’s also very budget-friendly!

Here’s today’s teacher-friendly work outfit:

Outfit #1

Cardigan: Old Navy

Lace cami: Express

Grey pencil skirt: Laundry by Shelli Segal (found at Ross!)

Grey suede pumps: Bandolino

Bangles and earrings: Ruche (shopruche.com)

I LOVE mint and paired it with other pastels all spring and summer long. I paired it with grey to transition it to winter and really like the way it turned out!

On a side note, taking self-timed shots with a puppy in the room sometimes leads to this:

Outfit #1b

Hmm. We might need to work on her a bit before she’s ready for her big Christmas card debut after all . . .