Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pinterest Test

Pinterest has changed some things and so I'm testing out some stuff and embedding pins into my posts! This is just a test to see how this new stuff works.

 It seems as though Pinterest is trying to make sure pictures that are reposted are linked back to the original post as best as possible! I think that's totally great, but it's just going to take some new learning!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Budgeting Bloggers ~ March

Sometimes not spending money is really easy...
Sometimes it's very hard.
Gap seems to make this hard for me.

Image via Gap
I went to Gap one evening in search of a dress for Easter and a wedding that was the next day and fell short on the dress hunt.  I fell in love this this cardi, though, and found it to be the perfect solution to spicing up one of LBDs.

Loving my new cardi for spring!

Gap V-Neck - $12
Image via Gap
Have you ever gone back to buy something after seeing it on someone else?  The girl on the worship team at church had on this tee and, yes, I went to Gap right after church to get the tee.  I really liked that this is a darker almost more purple-y neon pink.

Gap Shrunken Boyfriend Button Down - $34
Image via Gap
I had a love / hate affair with Gap's Friends & Family Sale this month.  I spent an hour in the store and came up with nothing.  (I'd bought the tee and cardi the weekend before.)  I loved this pattern and the fit of these shirts, but they didn't have this particular one in store, so I ended up getting it online.

Gap Roll-Sleeve Pocket Shirt Dress - $36

Gap 1969 Denim Vest - $36
Image via Gap
I gave Gap's F & F sale a second try after my first trip had been a fail.  I loved this outfit online, but figured the dress wouldn't work on my body.  I mean a button-down, hot pink, and a dress with pockets? I was pleasantly surprised with the result! It's school appropriate, cute, and comfortable!  I'm excited to style it in different ways!

I  then became obsessed with this dress and denim vest combo.  I think it helps to tone down the brightness of the dress.  I rocked the denim vest look at lot back in the mid-90's, which was a little hard to get over, but I'm happy to have this as an alternative to my well-loved denim jacket.

Jeweliq Necklace - $25
I had to Instagram this one immediately!
I think Jeweliq may be my few favorite source for cute jewelry!  I freakin' love this necklace!  The shipping was insanely fast and they even included a hand written thank you note!  How's that for great customer service!?!

Fossil Stella Mini Tortoise Watch - $40

I've wanted one of these tortoise watches for almost 2 years now.  I'd tried the larger version on a couple times, but it never fit right.  When I saw this at Ross, I decided I couldn't pass up at least trying it on...  And it fit perfectly!  This is a classic watch that will go with everything and I'm so happy that I didn't end up paying the $85-$115 that I was originally willing to pay for it!

Total = $206

Minus $56 (sold clothing to a resale shop)

Final Total = $150

BOOM!  On budget to the dollar!

I knew buying the watch would put me over $150, but I was okay with that since I'd wanted it for so long.  I took in some clothes to sell (you can read about what I took here), and was hoping for about $30.  I was super happy to be offered $56.06!  Yay!

How I Came Up With My Budget:

One of my shopping goals this year was to come up with a more firm budget.  I've read several things on blogs and in magazines on how to set a clothing budget.  Most suggest devoting somewhere between 5% and 10% of your take home income to this area.  When I looked at my income, bills, and other stuff I decided to stick closer to the 5% mark since that seems to be a reasonable amount.  I've pretty much settled on a budget of $150 a month for clothing, makeup, nail polish, and accessories.  I'd previously allotted about $200 a month to "fun money" which included all of those things, plus entertainment and eating out, but now that I don't really have friends around to go out with I don't need quite the same kind of budgeting.  I'm comfortable spending up to $200, but $150 or under is pretty much going to be my goal.  We all have our areas where we like to spend, and this is mine.  I've also decided that my extra work income is not going to count toward this budget as I'm trying to devote that money to savings and such.  (I let myself subtract that for a few months, but now that it has turned into a long-term thing, I have decided to use that money more responsibly.)  I will allow myself to subtract other extra income that I get from selling things or Ebates refunds from my clothing and accessory spending.  Does that make sense?

April Spending Plan:

  • Attempt to stay away from Gap.  Ha ha ha!  This one might be hard, but that store has just been killing my budget lately.  It's way too convenient for me to just swing in there whenever and everything they come out with screams my name!  I've got a pretty good spring wardrobe at the moment, so I'm going to see if I can stay out of there for a month.
  • Update my sandal collection.  I have a lot of sandals that need to be retired.  Target has some really cute and affordable options that may serve as good replacements for some of my old faves.
  • Lift the makeup shopping ban!  April 10th will be the end of my 100 days without buying makeup.  I actually want to try to last until Sephora's spring VIB sale.  I'm going to let myself splurge a little at that time (and use a Wal*Mart giftcard to get a few drugstore brand items) and then I may ban myself for another period of time.  
Don't forget to check out Franziska and the other Budgeting bloggers over at Franish!

Whole Group Reading: Vocabulary

 This week's focus for whole group reading is vocabulary instruction.  This is probably one of the hardest things for me to try to cram into 10 - 15 minutes of my 60 minute block!  

There's so much research that shows how a strong vocabulary helps students become better readers and builds higher comprehension.  So many of our students aren't exposed to higher level vocabulary outside of school, so it's important for us to give them opportunities to learn new words from a variety of content areas.

I teach vocabulary in several ways...  The first is through the Daily Vocabulary Practice book by Weekly Reader.  I found this at a teacher store when I was out of town, but I you can still find it online.  It has a half page for each day of the week, plus a weekly review.  Each week presents a new vocab theme and ties into a lot of my grammar instruction as well.  Right now, my class is finishing up a section of "science words," which is great for tying things into other subject areas.  

The other book I use is the Word A Day by Evan Moor.  This book just goes through a variety of words that students should be familiar with just for common knowledge.  There are different versions of this book for each grade level and it provides a "script" of sorts for each word of the day.  

My student teacher from last spring introduced me to this style of graphic organizer for vocabulary, so I whipped up my own and had our district copy center bind them into books for the students to use.  This is so convenient!  It took the kids a long time to get into this routine at the beginning of the year, but they're seasoned pros now!  (I'd like to get this into a Power Point or something for next year, but we'll see if that project happens this summer or not!)

I sometimes alternate the Word A Day book with content area words or vocabulary from our read aloud books.  I wish we had time to do all of it all the time, but that's just not possible.  (Although sometimes we do write in these journals during out science or social studies times and use them outside of the reading block.)  

You can see in the first picture an example of how I post our words of the week.  I use my super awesome Target pocket charts and Dollar Tree's word strips (I hoard those things) to post the words, adding them as we introduce them.  

I also use the Evan Moor Take It To Your Seat Vocabulary Centers during my work station time.  Those centers have some fun games and activities for vocab practice.  I'm hoping to incorporate more vocabulary work into my work stations next year since I feel so rushed to put it all in during my whole group block.

I hope this gives you some ideas on teaching vocabulary to your students!  I wanted to share my graphic organizer with you, so you can download the file here from Scribd.  (The cover is also included if you want to turn it into a book!)

Next week's post on whole group reading will cover our word wall time!  This was one part of Literacy First that I was initially very reluctant about, but that has ended up being a favorite in my classroom!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, March 29, 2013

5 Days, 5 Ways: Casual Friday (Spring Style)

Today is the last day that I'll be linking up with Franziska and Whitney for "5 Days, 5 Ways."  It's been super fun sharing with everyone this week and seeing the ideas that other bloggers have to offer!  


Today's theme is "Casual Friday" which is pretty appropriate for my typical Friday attire.  At my school, the teachers dress up on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  On Tuesdays we wear our anti-bullying t-shirts and jeans (or another school shirt) and this year we officially declared Friday to be a jeans-and-whatever day.  It's great to be able to dress like a "regular person" and not a teacher 1 day of my week as it allows me to wear some items that are work appropriate with that don't necessarily go with dress pants.

Casual Friday

This time of year Fridays are busy with activities like Pioneer Day, Field Day, pizza parties, inservices, and field trips.  Pretty much any jeans day you'll find me wearing my trusty American Eagle Boyfit Crop jeans.  I seriously hoard this style (especially since I always seem to score them on amazing sales)!  It's a little embarrassing to admit that I think I currently have 7 pairs (in various washes) in current rotation (although 2 of those are holey distressed ones that I don't wear to school).

Here's the lowdown on the styles I'm featuring (from upper left):
  • This is pretty much the ultimate field trip outfit...  A comfy, colorful tee, cute sandals, and some sunglasses.  I'll be sporting this look when we go to the zoo and the baseball game next month!
  • My Tippi sweaters transition really well from season to season and work with jeans as well as work pants.  I love my brighter colored Tippis for a casual, yet still pulled-together look.
  • A tee, cardigan, and TOMS (I have these in gray and black) are a great go-to look.  This is a combo I find myself rocking on teaching days as well as inservice days when I want to be comfy, but also look nice enough to go out to lunch with co-workers.
  • Ahhh...  Another appearance by one of my J.Crew colorblock tees!  These shirts are just so stinkin' cute!
  • Last, but not least...  A K-State tee!  I rock these pretty much every Friday during football season, but still fall back on them throughout the rest of the year.  There's nothing wrong with indoctrinating my little third graders with some purple pride.  I'm inspiring them to go to (the best) college!
What's your casual Friday style?

Fashion Friday: Oh My Gap!

About a year ago Gap redeemed themselves by coming out with some really fun, bright pieces and finally breaking out of their blah streak that had been running for a few years.  This has been great for my wardrobe and maybe not so great for my wallet.  
I'm a total Gap girl.  

Let's reminisce...

Image via Gap
I remember going to Gap Kids when I was in 3rd and 4th grade with my mom's friend who loved to spoil me with super cute outfits.  We're literally talking head-to-toe outfits and shopping sprees every couple months.  It was awesome!  (This friend was single at the time and didn't have kids of her own, so she was very sweet to treat me to such great clothes.)  After that phase, I didn't really shop there again until late middle school or so.  I pretty much haven't stopped shopping there since about 1999.

Image via Gap

I shop at Gap a lot for several reasons:

  • They have pretty good quality clothing.
  • Their style fits my lifestyle (work and play) very well.
  • They have really good sales.
  • I live really close to it.
Image via Gap
How wonderful are these springtime outfits!?!  Gap has really stepped up their game and I think is closing in on J.Crew, but at a much more reasonable price point.  Anyway, if you haven't been there in a while, pop into Gap or check out their website because you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find!  

What stores have you been loving lately?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

5 Days, 5 Ways: The Little Black Dress

Today's "5 Days, 5 Ways" theme is dresses!  I love dresses for spring and summer and I have a couple in particular that get a lot of good wear.

Five Days, Five Ways Link Up

I have 2 black tank dresses that are pretty much my ultimate go-do dresses.  One is from Gap (from 4 or 5 years ago) and has a slightly full bottom half.  The other is from the J.Crew Factory store (2 years ago) and has a slightly more straight bottom and ruffles around the arms.  

What I love about these dresses is how versatile they are.  I can seriously wear the same dress over and over and style it differently each time.  

Bridal Shower
Baby Shower
Bachelorette Party

Yup, I wear these dresses for pretty much everything you can imagine.  

Summer lunch with friends!

All dressed up for a friend's wedding!
And this is why I don't blog outfits of the day...

These pics were taken by my personal photographer (AKA my 11 year old brother).

This took about 6 attempts.
Dress:  Gap (old)
Cardigan: Gap (buy it here)
Shoes:  Madden Girl (old from TJ Maxx)
Sunglasses: Fossil (fairly recent from Gordman's)

This one isn't too bad!
Jacket:  Gap (old, but they have cute ones here)

Okay, it's not 5 ways, but my brother and I were too hungry to take anymore photos!

I most commonly wear these dresses with my denim jacket or a cardigan.  Since I have a lot of  ridiculous amount of cardigans I have a lot of options with colors.  

C'mon over to Along the Lines of Style and check out how other bloggers style their dresses!

(PS ~  I'll get back to more school / teaching related posts next week!)

DIY Glitter Flats

Once again, Pinterest and blogs got the best of me and I was inspired to do a fun DIY project!  

After my closet clean-out this week, I decided to try to glitterizing some old flats in an attempt to give some old shoes new life.  I searched "DIY glitter shoes" on Pinterest and found a bunch of pins linking to this project.  I also remembered that my friend Andi did a super cute glitter DIY to some shoes.  (You can see here post here.)

The perfect pair of shoes for this project was a pair of well-loved Target flats.  Due to lots of wear and the material of the shoes they were a little worn in spots and had pretty much been retired to the old shoe box in the sky (otherwise known as the top shelf of my closet).  

Worn, but still in decent shape!
Before shot!
I stopped into JoAnne Fabrics (the new one by my house is much more like a Michaels than a fabric store) and sought out some glitter.  Since the flats were black and this was my first attempt at this project I knew I wanted to go for something dark.  I also wanted to get a super fine glitter (following a few recommendations I found online).  

3 materials
I ended up getting this super pretty glitter in "onyx."  It's very dark, but with  blueish sliver glow about it.  It's a lovely alternative to just plain black!

Onyx glitter
The easiest "recipe" for this project was to combine glitter with Mod Podge and paint it on one layer at a time.  I mixed this on a plate and used a sponge brush that I found in my craft box.  I already had the Mod Podge, so the total cost was $2.99 for the jar of glitter.

Layer #1 on the first shoe!
As you can see, the Mod Podge has a milky finish before it dries.  I waited about 20 minutes between applications and did a total of 3 layers of glitter.  I had to remix my Mod Podge glitter each time and I actually ended up making my mixture a lot heavier on the glitter after the first coat.  

Finished and ready to dry!
I left them to dry (and went to a friend's house to enjoy conversation and wine) and came home to find my lovely dried glittery goodness flats!  

All dry and sparkly!
Please excuse my super white feet!
I used a little leftover mixture on a spare black headband!
I'm thinking about glitterizing some sandals next!  

Have you done any DIY projects lately?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

5 Days, 5 Ways: My Go-To Accessories

Today's the third day of "5 Days, 5 Ways" with Fran and Whitney!

You can find us today (and the rest of this week) over at Along the Lines of Style!


I'm going a slightly different direction with today's post and combining it with a post that I already had in the works.  I'm a huge fan of accessories, so it was hard for me to choose just one accessory.  I was already planning on doing a post on versatile accessories, so I'm going to share my top 5.  These aren't 5 ways items, these are ALWAYS items!

  1. Leopard Scarf - I've never been a huge fan of animal prints, but last fall I decided I get one.  It's gotten a lot of good wear and I even had to stalk Gap's website to get my mom her own!  I've found this scarf is great to dress up a basic outfit and that even with the brown and black it goes with a lot of colors and patterns.  (Here are some leopard scarf options.)
  2. Black Coach Purse(s) - I have 2 black Coach purses that I have been rotating over the past few months.  One is leather and one is a fabric.  They go with pretty much everything.  I've started investing in purses a bit more in the past few years, so I try to go with things that are on the versatile and slightly more classic side.  These purses will be favorites for years to come!  (The style pictured is the Coach Ashley Large Leather Satchel from the Coach Factory store...  I bought mine over a year ago, but it still pops up online every now and then!)
  3. Tortoise Watch - I debated adding this one in since I haven't owned it more than a few weeks, but I've been wearing it almost everyday since I bought it!  (I'd actually been eyeing this watch for about 2 years!)  It seriously goes with everything!
  4. Black Flats - A good pair of basic black flats is pretty much a go-to when it comes to shoes.  I can go out of town for a few days and be perfectly fine packing just a pair of black flats.  They go with jeans, black pants, and dresses...  Pretty much everything!  (Here are my current faves!)
  5. Statement Necklace - I love this necklace from Banana Republic and it's always the one I turn to when I want to dress up a basic outfit.  It was a super clearance find (I think I spent around $10) and it's gotten lots of great wear over the past few years!

     What are your most versatile accessories?  

    Do you have any items that you can wear with virtually every outfit?

Confessions of Teen Show Addict

I have a confession...

I'm 28 years old and I still love teen shows.  

In fact, I think I watch more teen shows than I did when I actually was a teen.  I probably watch almost as much MTV as I did when I was 16.  

So, let's go through my top 3 guilty pleasure teen show addictions.


This is seriously one of the best shows MTV has ever produced.  The writing is great and it's a delightful mix of dry humor and drama.  I have friends my age and even my mom's age that love this show.  The third season is coming back in April 16 and I get a little super excited every time I see a promo for it!


Those Canadians know their drama!  I started watching "Degrassi" back in college when I would babysit late nights and then watched a marathon of it for like 3 days straight when I had the flu.  After that, I was hooked!  It's been on for a long time and they cycle through characters, but I still somehow get hooked on the storylines.  It's on Teen Nick and is currently in the middle of 12th season.  

(Fun Fact:  It's actually the continuation of the original Degrassi series back in the 80's, but the ties to the original show aren't really there anymore...  Only 1 character from the 80's show is still on there.  I also recently discovered PBS has posted episodes of the original series on their You Tube page.)  

The Carrie Diaries

This one is a new show that's the prequel to "Sex and the City" and it follows Carrie Bradshaw through high school in the mid-80's.  I'll admit the 80's thing is what got me interested in the show, but it's such a good show, that I sometimes forget that's when it's set.  I'm not a huge SATC fan, but know enough about the show and Carrie's character to appreciate this show.  I think AnnaSophia Robb does an awesome job playing Carrie.  She's way cuter than Sarah Jessica Parker actually was at the time (here's proof), but her narration and mannerisms are very convincing to make it feel like it's the same character only younger.  I really hope this show lasts longer than this first season.

Do you have any guilty pleasure shows like these?!?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

5 Days, 5 Ways: Black Skinnies

It's the second day of "5 Days, 5 Ways" and I'm linking up over at Franish today!


Today's theme is pants, so I selected my black skinnies to share with you some of the ways I wear them.

If you'd told me a few years ago that skinny jeans / pants would become a favorite of mine, I would have laughed.  

In your face.

My legs are not my slimmest feature, but my theory in shopping is to pretty much give everything a chance in the fitting room.  Sometimes a trend can pleasantly surprise you!

5 Days, 5 Ways: Black Skinnies

I feel like black skinny pants are about as versatile as a good pair of jeans. I wear these for work a couple days a week and have found myself wearing them on weekends as well. (Something I very very rarely do with my wider-legged dress pants.)

Here are a few reasons why these pants are awesome:

  • You can wear them with virtually everything.
  • They're slimming!
  • They let your top make a statement.
  • They are a great non-jeans bottom to pair with chambray or denim if you're not into the head-to-toe denim look.
  • They instantly dress up your look and take you up a notch.
  • You can wear them with pretty much any kind of shoe...  Flats, heels, boots.
My 2 pairs are the Mossimo Slim Fit from Target (pictured) and the Gap Outlet Aubrey pants.  I'm hoping to get my hands on another pair from the ones from Gap because they're possibly the best fitting pants ever.  (If I'd known I'd love them so much I'd have bought 2 pairs since I don't make it to the Gap Outlet very often!)

Don't forget to check out the rest of the awesome bloggers linking up with Fran!  

To Do Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!  It's time to revisit last week's goals and see how I did!  Since it was spring break I had a lot of extra time to get things accomplished and be productive!
  • Get some cleaning done around the house.  I did pretty well on this.  I still have a few projects to tackle, but I have a pretty clean home at the moment!  I also managed to do a little closet clean-out and sell some items for extra cash!
  • Make lesson plans and sketch out units for the rest of the school year.  I could have done a little better on this one, but I did get plans done and get a few things ironed out for the remainder of the school year.  I have a 4 day weekend this coming weekend and will try to continue this on my days off.
  • Get my workout on!  I made it to the gym 4 times last week!  Oh, it felt sooooo good to be back!  
Here are this week's goals!
  • Keep up with regular workouts.  My after school tutoring gig is over for the year, so I'll be able to leave work about an hour earlier than I was when that was going on.  I'm hoping to get into the routine of just going to workout straight after school before I come home.  (I hate going during that time, but I think that will be easiest for me to stick with.)
  • Cook at least 2 real meals this week.  That's aiming a little on the low side, but that's the goal for right now!
  • Complete at least 4 blog posts.  I'm trying to get back into the habit on blogging on a regular basis.  I've settled on the fact that this blog is going to be about a little bit of everything, so I'm just going to write about whatever!  School, makeup, home decor, shopping...  Whatever!
What's on your to do list this week?  
Did you have a productive spring break (if you had one)?

Monday, March 25, 2013

5 Days, 5 Ways: J.Crew Colorblock Tee

I'm super excited to be linking up with Franziska and Whitney this week for

These two are a couple of my favorite style bloggers because they have such a similar sense of style, shop on a budget, and are about the same age.  (And, even better, Whitney is also a teacher!)

Today's theme was tops...  Since I don't have a very good way to take outfit photos, I've decided to go the Polyvore route, but I tried to use mostly items that I actually own (or very similar).  

I decided to go with my J.Crew colorblock tee for today for several reasons...  I love this shirt and own a few variations of it.  Plus, I feel like if you don't have this one yourself there are a lot of "knock offs" of it popping up in stores all over now.  I missed out on getting it at the retail J.Crew store last year, so I was quick to snatch it up when I arrived at the J.Crew Factory a couple months ago.

5 Ways: J.Crew Colorblock Tee

This shirt is super versatile, which is why I wanted it so much. I saw a lot of cute styling ideas online and knew it would get a lot of good use!  My 5 ways include 2 dressier options, 1 in the middle, and 2 casual ideas.  (I've also paired mine with my black blazer and denim jacket for additional layering.)