Monday, October 31, 2011

Fashion Week Day 2: Get Inspired

Happy Halloween!!!

I think we all get stuck in fashion ruts. We have our favorite things we like to wear and rotate through the same items over and over. I have tons of items in my closet that I like, but sometimes am just at a loss as to how, when, or where to wear them. As I've said before, I also like buying items that can be worn for school or everyday wear. I try to purchase items that are versatile, but sometimes I need ideas on how to make them work in different situations.

Over the summer I enjoyed looking three things that inspired my wardrobe... Fashion blogs, Pinterest, and Polyvore. I'll be talking about Polyvore a bit more later in the week so I won't go into much about that today.

Blogs: I can't remember how I stumbled upon J's Everyday Fashion, but this was the first fashion blog I really got into. Even though J isn't a teacher I really like how she shops with a budget and how she uses her wardrobe items in creative ways that I wouldn't normally think of. I've recently discovered a few other blogs and quite a few by teachers for teachers.

Here are a few I've found that I think you should check out:
Pinterest: I think I'm more obsessed with Pinterest than Facebook now. I got into Pinterest at the beginning of the summer and it was all downhill after that. I have a board on Pinterest dedicated to clothing. My Outfit Inspirations board has over 500 pins of clothing and outfits that I like. I've actually been using it for inspiration! Some days when I'm at a loss for how to wear something I log onto there, find an outfit with similar items, and get ideas on new combinations. If you haven't been on Pinterest before, you should check it out. If you're a member, check out my boards and follow me!

What I'm Wearing Today: I'm actually out of the classroom 3 1/2 out of 5 days this week for various conferences and meetings so I'm going a teensy bit more casual than normal. I think jeans can be dressed up for most occasions and there are some days when I do wear jeans to work. (We actually do jeans with our anti-bullying tees on Tuesdays and with school tees on Fridays to I really only have to "dress up" three days a week. Not bad, huh?) I still sometimes just have the desire to look like a "real person" and wear normal clothes to work (aka jeans). Some of my clothes just look better with jeans and I fully take advantage of this when I can.

This is a Polyvore replica of what I'm wearing today. It's not the exact items entirely, but it's pretty much the exact look I'm rocking. (If you must know, the sweater and scarf are pretty much the only items that aren't actually things I own.) I wanted to be comfortable enough to sit in a conference all day and then go work the after school tutoring with the kids later in the day. I rocked my more festive Halloween outfit on Friday so I didn't feel like doing a repeat since I'd be spending the day with some of the same people!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fashion Week Day 1: Where I Shop

I love shopping. I love it way more than I should. As soon as I started earning my own money in middle school babysitting I think I loved it even more because I had the freedom to buy things that I wanted other than just the "basics" that my mom was willing to buy. Whenever my dad came to town, we'd hit the mall where I had even more freedom to get things that I may not have been able to get otherwise.

I must explain that I grew up in a "cheap" family. We weren't poor my any means, but I think "sale savvy" would be a very appropriate way to describe how I was brought up. I think I owe most of it to my aunt and grandpa. They taught me to love a good sale and that coupons are my best friend. It is a VERY VERY rare occasion for me to pay full price for anything I wear.

I wanted to kick off Fashion Week by telling you about my favorite places to get clothing. I really haven't changed the primary stores I shop at since starting my career as a teacher. The things that I purchase at my favorite stores are different now that I look mostly for work wear and less for casual wear. A lot of my favorites I've been shopping at since middle school!

Here's a rundown of my favorite spots, why I like them, and what I like to get there.

American Eagle - This has been my top store since about 7th grade and is a prime example of how I can use trendy casual clothes as school appropriate work wear. I used to live in their graphic tees and hoodies and I still love those items, but I buy them a lot less often. One of my favorite reasons to love AE is their sales. Their AE Rewards card is just a scan card where you rack up points for your purchases and then get a coupon every three months. I typically get 30 or 40% off every three months and do a big trip there with that coupon. I also get smaller coupons and discounts AE is my current favorite for jeans, but I've also had decent success with some of their dress pants (khakis, trousers, etc.). They've also been carrying some nice blazers and button-downs this season. AE is a great place for layering clothes. What may look slightly inappropriate for a teacher by itself can be layered very easily to make a nice work outfit. I also LOVE their jewelry... It's cheap (sometimes as cheap as 3 for $10!) and the quality is usually pretty decent. Finally, I have come to enjoy their shoes quite a bit. I've got several pairs of clogs that are comfy, stylish, and warm for winter as well as some super cute ballet flats.

Gap - Gap and I go through phases together, but I'd say overall a very large quantity of my work wardrobe comes from there. Gap is another amazing place for sales and coupons if you know how to get them. Their store card gives $10 back for every $100 you spend, but they frequently run promos for double and triple points, so you can get the $10 without actually spending $100 many times. Now, I will admit that this season Gap has greatly disappointed me. I've always loved their sweaters for fall and winter, but this year's collection is blah and very boxy fitting. Gap also used to be a great place for work pants for me and then they redesigned their collections and they don't fit me as well as they did before. That's the way it goes, though. I'm holding out for more color and better fits in the spring. I will share my great find from last weekend, though. I got a black and white print maxi dress, originally $98, marked down several times with an additional 40% off sale items... I paid $7.48. Can't beat that!

Banana Republic / Banana Republic Factory - BR is one of those store I could never afford to shop at until I had a "grown up job." Plus, most of their clothing was dressier than I went for anyway. Now that I am a seasoned Banana shopper, though, I know how to totally work their sales and coupons and get some amazing steals on some really nice clothing. The quality of the clothing is really good and I love getting not only basics, but also trendy clothing there as well. BR is one of my favorite places for dresses and I love that they carry most in petite online since I am very borderline on petite and regular sizes. My absolute favorite work pants right now are some stretchy black pants from the Banana Factory Store (outlet). They have some amazing deals as well, but unfortunately the closest one is about 2 1/2 hours away. BR is one place I am will to spend a little more (but always with a coupon or discount) for the quality and nice looking clothing that fits well. BR also has a 10 or 15% off discount for teachers, but it can't be combined with other discounts so I usually don't take advantage of it because the other discounts save me more money.

Express - Express is wonderful for the fact that I am never without a coupon to there and that they are filled with great work clothes. What always makes me laugh is that I am pretty much the exact opposite shape and height of the models in their ads, but yet the majority of their clothing fits me really well. I have a great collection of their tanks and cardigans that I mix and match for layering. Express is where my interview suit came from and is also another wonderful place for work pants. I'm also willing to pay a little extra for some of their dress clothes (mostly pants) because of the quality and the fact that their pants last for years! I still have some that I bought there in college that still look nice!

Target - I love Target! If I had to shop at only one store, I'd choose Target. I've worn Target clothes pretty much from birth and I think for the price their quality is quite good. I'm most fond of their Mossimo brand clothes and shoes, but I do have quite a few Xhilaration (juniors) and Merona items as well. A few of my favorite pairs of jeans have actually been from Target and have fit and lasted just as well as more expensive brands. I love that Target carries a mix of trendy items and basics. The majority of my shoe collection is from there, too. I have a small addiction with buying their ballet flats when they go on $12 sales.

Limited - We used to have several Limited stores in town, then they closed right when I got to the age of wanting to shop there so I only go to go there when I was out of town. They just put one back in one of our malls over the summer though and I'm so glad to have it back! I've already purchased a few great cardigans and sweaters for the cooler months and got a few summer items on amazing clearances at the end of the season. Limited is always running some good promo which is wonderful since I said I really don't pay full price for anything. They've got some great basics as well as seasonal items that you can mix and match.

Honorable Mentions

I don't feel like I can give these stores the complete thumbs up because I don't shop them frequently because I don't have one locally. I do some online shopping, but I try to only do that through stores where I really know the sizing quite well. Otherwise the nearest of most of these is 2 1/2 hours away so I only make it to them when I'm on vacation or a weekend getaway to visit friends a few times a year.

Loft / Loft Outlet - Oh how I love Loft! I discovered Loft a few years ago after I fell in love with an outfit in a magazine ad. I went to Colorado shortly after and found a Loft store and pretty much bought the whole outfit from the ad! Loft is the perfect mix of trend and class. They're also great at having good sales and promos. Their Loft Loves Teachers discount and promos are also an added bonus. I've got some great knit dresses, work pants, and tons of cute tops from Loft. I hit up the Times Square location last spring when I was in NYC and hit the mother of all sales! The only thing I don't love about Loft is that there isn't one in the city I live in. One day, hopefully, they'll realize I could keep them in business.

J. Crew - I previously hadn't paid much attention to J. Crew (since we don't have one in town), but I went there with a friend when we were on vacation last January. I don't know why I'd ignored that store up to that point! I don't have a lot from there (no pants, just tops and a dress), but I love their style and they can have some amazing sales! I get so excited when I get my new catalog in the mail each month. My favorite buys this fall were some sweaters and cardigans in rich fall colors. I'm hoping to make another visit there within the next month or so and get some more great sweaters and some cute scarves. Last but not least, J. Crew offers a 15% discount to teachers!

H & M - Okay, I will admit I've technically only been to H & M twice when I was in NY (White Plains and then down in the city), but I picked up some great finds when I was there. H & M is great for anyone that wants to get trends on a budget. They also have tons of great basics and some really cute accessories. I picked up 2 sweaters, a cardigan, dress, long sleeve tee, 6 pairs of earrings, and a necklace there for a grand total just under $80. Unfortunately they don't sell online yet (that's coming in 2012), but they're opening a new store a few hours away so I can hit it up on my next weekend getaway!

New York & Company - This is another store I go through phases with... I only make it there a few times a year and it's very hit or miss for me. Sometimes I want everything in the store and sometimes I could pass on everything I see. Overall, I think it's a good place for work clothes at a reasonable price. I've picked some some nice sweaters and pants there before. They typically have a good selection of different lengths in their work pants which is really nice for those of us that aren't quite average.

Well, there you have it! What are your favorite stores for teacher clothes? How do you mix you everyday clothes with your professional wardrobe?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Finally... Classroom Pictures!

Welcome to my classroom! I posted these pics to my Facebook account back in August and then never got around to posting them here! *fail* I love sharing these pics so I don't know what happened to make it so hard for me to just sit down and get these posted. I hope you enjoy the tour!

There really isn't any specific order to these, but I'll tell you a little about each one as we go.

This is one section of my classroom library. We're a Literacy First school / district so they're big on having classroom libraries that the students actually use. This shelf contains my fiction books. I've never really gotten around to really organizing and labeling my library to the extent I really want, but it'll happen one of these days.

This shelf had previously lived behind my teacher's desk, but when I rearranged the classroom it didn't fit anywhere near there. It fit over by my classroom library, though, and found a new home housing some reading supplies and some of my little teacher gifts from years past.

I can't remember off the top of my head where I found the inspiration for this fluency poster, but I loved it and had to make my own version. The kids refer to it a lot during their reading work stations.

This is my new listening center. I've never had a listening center before, but we have to have them now. I ended up getting a pretty nice one and even though it's a small space for sometimes a group of four kids it still works out quite nicely.

This is the view from the door. The room was all decked out for our open house the night before school started.
Our school did a team / sports theme this year, so this is my door decor. I had the banner made from Vista Print and the rest are just simple little die cuts in K-State colors!
Can you tell what my favorite team is? I love my Wildcats and I'm very obviously not afraid to show it.
Because I don't have much wall space I have to get creative with how I use space in my classroom. I use the door as our AR board and for the students' library cards and library bookmarks. It's actually really convenient for them to grab on the way in and out the door.

Here's part of my corner of the classroom. I found this printable through Pinterest and bought a cheap Wal-Mart frame for it.

More K-State goodies. Our new principal was a teacher in our building and a fellow KSU fan. I inherited a lot of his decorations when he was cleaning out his classroom at the end of the year.

These are our tool kits for Everyday Math. The curriculum calls for a lot of manipulatives to be available to the kids on a daily basis, so I have the organized for each table group. Overall it works out really well. I found these purple drawers at Big Lots for only $18!

I had been wanting to rearrange my classroom and move my desk to the opposite end of the classroom for several years, but one of the reasons why I didn't was because I was going to give up the shelving for all of my teacher books. I'd asked for another shelf last year, but didn't know if I would get one or not. Then, I couple days before school started I walked into my classroom and found this beauty waiting for me. It holds sooooooo much! I love it so much. Good organization and storage makes me happy!

Can you believe another teacher put this out in the hallway to get rid of? This is kind of the command center for classroom supplies. The colorful baskets are labeled for materials like pencils, pens, erasers, highlighters, and so on.

These little resource cards are made from printables I found online as well as stickers from Dollar Tree. I mounted everything on construction paper and laminated it so that they can be reused year after year.

Okay, I will admit this isn't the most attractive setup, but I love this unit. This comes from the kid's furniture department in Target and holds a bunch of random stuff like flashcards, counters, playing cards, dice, games, and books. You can find a very similar one here also from Target.

I needed more storage for my reading and math resources (mostly from my massive Lakeshore and Mardel shopping trip) so I dropped about $20 on these plastic cubes from Wal-Mart. Disclaimer: If you want these for the purpose of stacking, check to make sure they have the connecting part before you buy them in the store. The ones from Target were the same brand (but more fun colors), but they didn't connect and therefore stack properly. Back to the store they went.

This is where I post daily info and assignments, but for open house I had these cute little baseball notes where parents could take one to donate an item.

I hate clutter in the kids' desks so these book bins from Target help to take away part of that problem. I was lucky enough to snag 25 or 30 of these the first year Target carried them and got them for only $1 each. Now they run $2.50 each during back to school time.

This sitting area is an example of how you can create a little reading nook for very little money. The chair was purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond my sophomore year of college. The K-State pillows were 90% off at Linens N' Things when they were going out of business. The small pillows were from the $2.50 bin at Target. The table was a Goodwill find for $2.99 and I spray painted the scratched up red to back. Finally the rug (which you can't really see in this pic, but you can in others) was a Target sale item (less than $20 I believe) when I lived in the college dorms. I love that I have a designated reading area and I even more I love that I hardly spent any money putting it together!

This is my reading focus wall. Not really in action yet because it was before school started, but you get the idea. I love my Target pocket charts. Just glue on some magnet strips on the back and they're good to go on your magnetic white boards.

This is my computer area as well as my word wall. I really *really* need more space for a word wall, but this has to do the job. I love my Poppin' Patterns letters that I used on there and get tons of compliments on it!

Here's the lunch choice chart with the super cute library pockets I won from my post at Tommie's Tools last summer. You can read more about it here and follow the link to where she featured my idea. (PS ~ If you haven't been over to Tommie's Tools before you need to check out her page! She's got some super creative ideas! I love her page!)

My teacher area. It's more cluttered than I wish at times, but it's the best I can do. Don't you love the poster on the front of my desk? "Be a winner, not a whiner!"

This file organizer from Mardel is one of my favorite organization tools. I use it for a lot of copies, particularly things that I want the kids to have easy access to. I also have a smaller back on back behind my desk for easy access to folders and data. Here is the link to all of them on Mardel's website.

Finally, here is my version of a clip chart for behavior. I love the way it looks, but I'm not totally convinced this is the best behavior system for my current class. I talked about behavior management last summer in this post and linked to a lot of other sample clip charts. I may switch to another system at semester and try this one again with another class. I've ended up using some other school wide incentives for behavior this year and trying to do both just doesn't seem to make the whole clip chart system seem as effective. Oh well! That's the joy of teaching sometimes... We can try things and change or adjust based on the needs of our students!

I hope you enjoyed my classroom tour. Please leave a comment and feel free to ask questions about anything. My classroom is like a work of art that I am constantly making changes to and trying to improve, yet never seems to be finished!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Next Week: Third Grade Rock Star Fashion Week

I've been inspired by a variety of fashion and shopping related blogs and have decided to declare next week, October 30th to November 5th, the first Third Grade Rock Star Fashion Week! I'm planning on sharing some of my own favorite teacher outfits, discounts, items from my closet, and links to other awesome resources on the web. I'm super excited to share these things with everyone and I hope you enjoy and get some new ideas.

You won't find any schoolhouse applique cardigans or light up sweaters here!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Teachers Can Be Stylish Too!!!

If there there are two things that I truly enjoy in life it would be shopping for clothes and home decor. I wish I had more money to do both (although most will argue I don't need any more clothing), but as teachers we all pretty much have to function on some sort of budget. That doesn't mean we have a dress in outdated knit pants suits from Wal-Mart or rock our collection of light-up seasonal cardigans. I've recently been really into reading fashion blogs and I've stumbled upon several by teachers for teachers. I really like this because I look at some of these website and blogs at their "work looks" and think to myself, "That wo
uld be so impractical for my job!" We have jobs where we are on our feet most of the day, may or may not have control of the heating or a/c in our classrooms, and need to be modest and comfortable yet still professional at the same time. I sometimes think that dressing for my office job back in college was easier than dressing for teaching some days. Anyway, check out Mix and Match Fashion's Teacher's Have Class and Style page where she's collecting and posting work looks for teachers. I'm hoping to get a pic or two of my own submitted this week to be featured on her blog. I swapped out my warm weather clothes for my cold weather clothes this weekend and realized that my entire cold weather wardrobe for work consists o
f cardigans, sweaters, and only a few other select tops. Pants are my weak area. I hate buying dress pants because they typically either don't fit me the right way or are way over my budget. I'm thinking that sometime soon I'll share some of my own "teacher outfits" on here and some of my good buys. I can't say I'm a teacher fashionista every single day, but I do try my best to balance "normal people" clothes with my teaching wardrobe. (Today is NOT a fashion day for me... Just to get that out there. Red Ribbon Week and a warm front totally messed up my plans for looking cute. Oh well, it happens!) I am realizing that I am rambling, so I'm going to go attempt to be productive. Hopefully soon I will have more excitement (pictures!) to share with you all!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Okay, I will admit that I am horrible at blogging and juggling the school year. I've been meaning to post update and pictures for the past two months, and I just haven't. I've also had a lot going on outside of school, so that's a factor as well. So anyway, I want to tell everyone to stay tuned for some updates and goodies. I'm excited to share with everyone!

Be back soon!