Sunday, August 31, 2014

Smitten Hand Cream Review

Anyone who knows me even remotely well knows that my interests pretty much lie in tea, makeup, and bath/beauty products. And my number 1 beauty and bath company bar none is Lush. Lush is a really ethical, mostly natural kind of company that to me creates the most effective products out there. I stepped into one about 6 years ago and it was all over for me. I went through a phase where I bought everything, tried everything, and spent far too much money in general. I still do that, just less frequently.

If you have never been, I highly recommend the soaps. They are cut to order, so I always get roughly five buck chunks. The bath bombs aren't the cheapest, but a lot of fun. The massage bars are quite possibly the best body care discovery I have ever made.

But today, I wanted to talk about Smitten Hand Cream. It was a part of their regular range until a couple of years ago, until it was discontinued. Discontinuing, even though it means bigger and better products, is a horrible part of the Lush experience. It is part of what contributed to the great Lush hoarding that I am still working through now. I may or may not have five Soft Touch body butters stashed from the last time it was offered limited edition. Smitten is now on Retro, but Lush recently announced they are getting rid of the Retro line all together. Normally, this would be super upsetting (as they have my favorite bubble bar, Bathos, on there as well), but I know it means Lush Kitchen is arriving soon. I have been stalking the offerings on the UK site and think the small batch constant rotation of products is a better way to do things...but will probably cost me a lot of money too as things are only available until that single batch sells out.

I am sure Smitten will be featured again someday in the Kitchen, it is so popular with it's Snowcake scent (which is creamy almond, for anyone not already a Lushie), but it is still on the US site now if you need to stock up. I already did. At 20 bucks it isn't cheap, but you get what you pay for. It is effective, full of skin loving ingredients, and sinks in fairly quickly without losing efficacy. Highly recommend.

Bathos :,en_US,pd.html#start=3

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Student Teaching: The First Week

Now I know why school districts make the first week short, usually.

Three days and I was so exhausted to my core, and it felt like the longest week ever. But definitely not in a bad way. It was more like I was "on" so much, and absorbing so much new information, that by the time the day was done my feet literally felt like they would fall off and I was just too tired to do a whole lot of anything. I am told that will change as I get more used to things, and as I start taking over teaching.

This week, I am starting off by taking over social studies lessons. It is one of the easier subjects in many ways, though it is actually the least scripted (as they do not have a program they use specifically, and a basal reader to go with it), but for me that is actually good. That means it is a subject I have some freedom in, freedom for projects and stuff. There is nothing wrong with the basal reader lessons, but the college expects us to be doing these revolutionary lessons. I am still not totally sure how much I am supposed to stick to these programs. I don't want to derail the curriculum for weeks, as all 6 fourth grades do the same thing for the most part.

I am surprisingly not nervous most days. Leaving at 6:45 when I DON'T have dog sitting and have to leave earlier is kind of killer, but I think all of the mental prep was good. I am set to finish reading my "for fun" book next week, I took a bath, and walked 4 times this week. Well, I walked on the days I didn't have school. My feet couldn't handle anything more.

This week the goal is to cook a little more as my feet hopefully adjust. I am almost finished my lesson plans for this coming week to be submitted tomorrow, and will spend the rest of the long weekend hopefully getting ahead on lessons for the following week, cooking, cleaning, and relaxing. Once Upon A Time season 3 is now on Netflix and I have been enjoying Criminal Minds.

First week down, 6 more to go for this experience.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Student Teaching: The First Day

The first day went really well. I found that going in advance to visit the school made me minimally nervous, as I already had a bit of familiarity with the kids, my teacher, the other teachers, and the building itself. I mostly just helped out whenever possible and tried to get a sense of the routine, but with all the testing, there is only a shady sketch of a routine right now.

To give you a picture of how tired I was at the end of my first day, I wrote that first paragraph and then promptly went to sleep. Luckily there wasn't much of anything I had to do after the first day, for today anyway. I am planning a social studies project that will begin next Tuesday (as we have off Friday and Monday for Labor Day weekend), and might have a couple of other lessons that week as well. So if I want my weekend to be a weekend, and if I want to get started on working on things for the week after (thankfully, my teacher is amenable to me working ahead if I am feeling motivated, and choosing what I want to teach and how I want to teach it. I do have a copy of the first social studies test, so I can make sure to cover all of the points at some point).

So, when I went to bed my feet and body ached like nobody's business and I couldn't keep my eyes open past 9. Luckily this morning leaves me with the aches gone, though I am sure I will start to feel it much more quickly today, and ready to face the day. I am bringing an extra water bottle today, because I also accidentally dehydrated myself yesterday. I drank a lot in the morning, knowing we plan first thing and can use the restroom between 8:45-9:30, and had my water bottle at lunch, and I felt ok until the kids left at 3:30, and then realized how thirsty I was when I left school altogether an hour and change later.

As glad as I am to have what seems like a really great class, and a really great co op in a school I like, I am also really thankful the first week is three days (due to my seminar last Monday), and next week is four days. Physically, it feels necessary to ease in to a full work week, and easier to re-acclimate to the intensely tedious college lesson plan format, by having so much time to complete them.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Student Teaching: Meeting My Cooperating Teachers

Just one month ago, I was in a near panic over the oncoming student teaching tasks. I had no real reason to be so freaked out, I know I am a solid lesson planner, and am reasonably good at classroom management and getting along with others. I also know that while maintaining a semblance of a life is important to me, I will work as hard as I can.

I was nervous about meeting my teachers. I have had four field experiences prior to this, and only one of them left me really excited about becoming a teacher myself. Student teaching is not at all like the real world, which is good in many ways, but bad in that even though you take over teaching the class, it still isn't your class. You have to really conform to what they believe is the right way of doing things, and if they have a very set idea about that, it can be stressful.

I can say now I have met both of my cooperating teachers for the fall, and I feel incredibly fortunate. My first teacher is in fourth grade, in a more rural school district, and my kids will be a whole different demographic than what I am used to. She seems incredibly supportive, and also relaxed, which tells me she is open to ideas and letting me figure things out how they will work for me. She also has a lot of experience in multiple grade levels, and I am looking forward to learning her techniques as well. I spent four half days helping her in her classroom, prepping, and attending an open house to meet some of the students and their parents. While I am still nervous, getting to know her, other teachers, the school, and meeting the kids has taken a lot of the stress out of it.

My second teacher was a lot harder to pin down, due to some emailing challenges. But I met her today, and she seems just as lovely as my other teacher. She is in second grade, and the layout of the school is very different. One of my classmates had her for pre student teaching last year and loved her, so despite not spending as much time, I am feeling very good about starting that experience in October as well.

Monday is my half day seminar at the college, I start Tuesday in my first placement. I feel ready.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recipe: Kale Salad

I jumped on the super duper trendy bandwagon of kale awhile back. I am not always the best about eating my veggies, and kale is super healthy. I did not realize though that many (if not most), eat kale cooked, as I had been eating it exclusively raw. While totally ok to do so, I don't think I will ever go back. Slightly wilting the kale first makes it super tender, and as a side bonus it also becomes the most vivid shade of green.

Doing it is simple - I put a fairly deep pan on the stove on medium, and add a little water. Then put in the raw, washed kale (it is ok if it is wet, and in fact probably works better at allowing the kale to slightly cook a bit faster).

For me, if the pan is already hot, it takes maybe 60-90 seconds for all of the leaves to turn the richest green you have ever seen.That is when I usually take it off the heat and transfer into a bowl to cool. I usually do two big batches like the ones in the picture for about three salads worth.

After that, all you need to do is let it cool, add whatever to it you like, and eat. I roasted up some yellow squash to go into it, just roasted for 40 minutes in a baking pan with olive oil and some Mrs. Dash (I try to avoid adding salt, as most dressings offer plenty of flavor). Then I mixed it with some chipotle ranch dressing because obviously this was looking way too healthy. I still have enough salad for about two more salads, and I will likely roast up some broccoli tomorrow to add into it too. Other toppings I enjoy are hard boiled egg, grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, shredded/crumbled cheese...pretty much anything that can go on a salad. Plus, easily portable too, and is likely to become a feature in the student teaching lunchbox. Nomnom.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tea Drink-Down

Anyone who knows me even reasonably well knows how much I have come to love tea. It is funny actually, five years ago I had only had it a couple of times. It was a slow transition, and I realized at some point, through a single Teavana tin of loose leaf tea, that the plain Lipton bags were what I didn't like, and there was a whole other world out there I had no clue about.

Fast forward a couple years, and you have a girl who now drinks almost exclusively tea or tisanes. I am not a fan of water most of the time, I prefer my liquid to have flavor. I have also stopped buying juices or soda (diet or regular) to keep in the house, and only order them occasionally when I am out at dinner as a treat. I can honestly say I feel a lot better for it. That said, I try to keep my caffeine intake stable, and less than what would amount to a couple cups of coffee per day. This isn't so hard to do - I stick to black tea in the morning, oolong and green tea midday, and white or herbal tisanes in the evening. I make my own iced tea and it is largely unsweetened.

I should state first that I am TOTALLY comfortable having a large tea stash. It is a fairly healthy vice, and compared to most other drinks is also cheaper. But between a few monthly subscription boxes and a few boxes of samples from people on Steepster looking to pare down their collections, I have more than I can handle. So a few months ago, I instituted a goal. I count all of my teas on Sundays, and currently have 59 tins of tea (ranging from 1oz-10oz), and 45 samples (anything under an ounce). It doesn't fit in my tea cabinet in full, which to me is my main issue. So, my goal is to have less than 20 samples, and 30 tins full. That way, hopefully about half will be hot tea, and half will be iced. But really, I would be happy if it all fit in the cabinet, which would work at 40 tins too.

Making iced tea often means I drink those very fast, but hot teas take less leaf, so I usually keep drinking them in the mornings and evenings through the summer. Not too hard a feat, given how mild this summer has been.

Adagio, Rwanda Rukeri: Adagio is the first brand I ever bought from, and still one of my favorites. They have the best rewards system I have ever seen - I find between reviewing and sharing my daily cup on Facebook that about 25% of all the tea I purchase from them is free, often more. I started out being very into black tea, but now I often find it to be a bit too strong. This tea is good, very bold, but I have to be careful not to overleaf or overbrew.

Harney and Sons, Florence: This is very much a chocolate tea. It is a sample I got from a box of samples I purchased from a person on Steepster (damn my need to try a little of everything combined with a good deal!). It is chocolatey, with a hint of roastiness that I believe is hazelnut flavor. It was ok on its own, but I plan to add a bit of almond milk and turn it into more of a creamy dessert. Chocolate teas usually just make me want real chocolate, so brewing it stronger and with milk, like a chai, should quell the craving.

Adagio, Hojicha: If you like strong black teas, but want to branch out a little, this roasted green is the way to go. Roasty all the way, and I like to drink it in the evenings.

Chameleon Teas, Peppermint Cinnamon tea: This one is also green, and also spicy and relaxing and perfect for evening. As you can see, I am well on my way to finishing this one.

After I drink a tea, I rate it and review it on Steepster so I can remember which ones I liked best, and see what others think. Sometimes I find I am brewing a tea incorrectly. Other times, it just isn't for me and I rehome it with someone who might like it better.

Life is too short to waste forcing yourself to drink samples you don't care for when there are 59 you love overflowing a cabinet.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ipsy: August 2014

I am a beauty junkie. Part of what I love is trying new things - when I can get a product in miniature, I do, because I rarely finish products due to having so many I like to use and switch between. Most people would say the subscription boxes are not worth the money because you get one or two things you like, and several you do not. This is probably true for many people, but I always really enjoy three out of the five items sent at least, and happily pass along anything I do not to friends who might enjoy it more.

Ipsy is one of my favorite services - it satisfies the urge to try new things, and only costs ten bucks. What I receive usually well exceeds that, even if  I remove the things I didn't like. This month wasn't a bust, but it wasn't my favorite month.

The bag is a summery, wipeable plastic in a tube shape. I like this shape - any bag where the zipper is at the very top, more product fits in than ones where the zipper isn't on an edge. It being cheap, wipeable plastic means it might look super cheap, but it is sanitary and good for protecting your bags and products if you travel.

Here are the products - this is not so much a review, as I have only tried them once or twice, but more how excited I am to receive them, and their value.

Klorane Extra Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk: I hate dry shampoo. I never use it. I wish the trend would calm down so I could stop getting them in my subscription bags. I miss the hair oil craze. I will be rehoming this. Value: around $6.50

Dr. Brandt Pores No More Primer: I use primers, but not nearly at the rate I receive them in these bags. I am kind of over them in general, but I will eventually use this. Value: $11.25

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara: This is the real winner of the bag. It is newly released, from a well known and high quality brand, and a product I am sure to always need. I actually always buy mascara trial sets from Sephora and only ever have one mascara open at a time - in three months (the appropriate life span of a mascara) I never use full sizes up so I LOVE minis. Value: $5.50

Jersey Shore Sun Mongongo Anti Aging Lip Conditioner in Mandarin Green Orange Ginger: Hello to the bizarre flavor name (what exactly is a green orange?), and the less than appealing brand name that elicits bad reality tv associations. But, this product is organic and natural, which I love in lip products, and it smells amazing. It is very buttery on the lips and even though I need more lip balm like a hole in the head, I am super happy to have this one. Value: $5.50

J. Cat Beauty Flying Solo Eyeshadow in Half Naked: This is a very light peach shade that seems to have good pigment, is soft, and shimmery without being metallic. I haven't worn it yet but I like that it is a color, but also neutral, making it possible for wearing to school. The inexpensive full sized price surprised me, I would have pegged it for closer to six or seven dollars, possibly even more. Value: $2.99

Total Value: $31.74
Paid: $10.00

Verdict: Not my favorite bag, but I don't feel like I wasted my ten bucks either. Given that I use any "extras" as thank you gifts or ways to bulk up Christmas or Birthday presents, I rarely find myself wishing I hadn't paid that much. I used to have Birchbox, and generally found it to be lacking in value and often disappointing - I never feel that way with Ipsy. Can't wait for the next one!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

First Impression Face

It is no secret that I love me some beauty products. I am not the type to wear makeup every day, as I am a firm believer in using makeup to enhance, and boost confidence, but not to feel uncomfortable without it at any point. I wear makeup most days I see people right now, because I have had a fairly solitary summer, but something tells me that a few weeks into student teaching I will be bare faced more often than not.

I met my teacher this past week for my first placement and I have to say, a LOT of my anxiety has fallen away. She seems really knowledgeable and relaxed, and is a lot of fun. I spent two afternoons helping her set up the room and chatting, getting to know each other, and getting to know the school/classroom. This coming week I plan to go again at least once, as well as attend the fourth grade open house for parents. I feel like when I walk into my seminar next week I will feel very ahead of the curve. I am planning the first social studies project on continents and countries and states and such, reviewing the differences, and am putting up the welcome bulletin board (though due to incredible lack of artistry, it will likely be the most unoriginal board ever). My second placement teacher has yet to get back to me but I heard that a classmate had her last fall for pre student teaching and loved her, so overall I am feeling very lucky indeed.

Before meeting my teacher, I wanted to feel my very best. I love wearing brighter, smokier, and generally very visible makeup. But in a professional situation, I am also good at the natural face. Here are the products I used, and love. Apologies for picture quality - I am using an iphone, and took these in a bit of a rush. There are no pictures at the end of my whole face, as I am trying to keep my face off the radar for now through student teaching and job hunting, this is more a big set of product recommendations.

The Porefessional: One of the best face primers, one I turn to regularly.

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream: Has spf 35, solid coverage, but not as heavy as plain foundation. I strongly prefer BB creams, and usually prefer Asian ones, but this came in a set and matches my more tan skin tone of summer and I actually like it a lot.

Bobbi Brown Corrector: I have hereditary dark circles you wouldn't believe, and this cancels out the blue.

Maybelline Fit Me Concealer: I like to mix drugstore and high end products - this one gets a lot of hype on youtube, and for pretty good reason. It is thinner in texture, covers well, and layers over the corrector well.

Nars Cream Blush in Penny Lane: This is the most subtle rose pink I own, and it is cream to powder. I put it underneath powder usually, as it starts out as cream, but also so the powder can blend it out. This is my go-to subtle blush that looks perfect and natural on me every time.It is well loved, as you can see.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders in Dim Light and Luminous Light: I LOVE the Hourglass powders. But at over fifty bucks a pop, they are a huge splurge. But, they are gorgeous. I have foresaken all other setting powders, instead using Dim Light. The day I met my teacher, it was pouring rain and cloudy. Normally I would never use shimmery face products when I want to look subtle but the sparkle in Luminous Light is so fine, that I added a little to my cheekbones and forehead to prevent sallowness. Resisting buying the bronzer-like shade of this is tough for me, particularly during Sephora F&F sales.

Rimmel Natural Bronzer: I use the lightest shade, as I am NOT a big bronzer user. Only this year have I really started appreciating it, particularly matte bronzer. I contour using a more cool toned brown shade, but did not want a contour so much as a glow on the rainy day. I took just the slightest touch of this to give just a little warmth, as I am still a bit of a bronzer-phobe. 

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Beige-ing Beauty: I love this product - I have yet to find a high end brand that does a better job. I only wish they didn't release so many limited edition collections I can't get my hands on. This has a lot of sparkle, but is in a nude shade, so it doesn't look too over the top. I think light shimmer on the eyes in very neutral shades looks put together and beautiful, visible yet not over the top. 

Bobbi Brown Shimmer Wash Eyeshadow in Rose Gold: To tone down the sparkle, I layered this soft pink that is "shimmery", but I would not exactly call it shimmer. The shimmer is more like a sheen, not so much sparkle. Mixed with the beige, it doesn't look too brown or pink. Pink shades tend to give a lot of life to my face, and this past year and a half I have become a big fan.

Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette, shade Nooner: I love this palette. Trick is my favorite shadow in it, but it was just too bright for a professional look in my opinion. I have only in the past six months started using matte shadows in the crease on days I am doing a more toned down look (otherwise, I don't care if my eyes look like two disco balls, I love shimmer and sparkle!), and Nooner is browner than the other matte in this palette, Limit, though it is darker. Limit tends to make me look a bit red in the eyes when I am doing natural eyes, so a light dusting of Nooner is perfect.

Lancome Eyeshadow in Laced Up: This was a gift from a friend, and it is a flesh toned peach on me that makes a great under the brow color when I don't want to highlight exactly, but to even out the skin tone a little and bring a little brightness.

Anastasia Brow Wiz Pencil: I prefer pencil to powder when I am going for a lighter, but still filled in brow look. Brow powder, for me, always results in a bit stronger color payoff that looks good, but I didn't want to overdo. 

Kevin Aucoin Curling Mascara: I got this in a Glossybox, and I enjoy it. It is black, but is definitely not a dark black - it actually looks more gray straight out of the tube. 

Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner in Underground: This shade is a medium brown shade that isn't dark and is slightly on the cool side, so it defines, but is impossible to be harsh. It is my go-to "subtle" liner.

Maybelline Color Elixir in Caramel Infused: Lip products are some of the best to get from the drugstore. This is super balmy and comfortable to wear, and looks tan in the tube, but shows up on me as a brown mixed with pink, so it is very neutral. It is shiny but not shimmery, and the shine dies down after about a half hour to become a more natural sheen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Weight Loss

I have been "bigger" pretty much as long as I can remember. I had lost some weight when I was 23, thanks to Weight Watchers and eating canned soup twice a day, but have since gained it all back and then some. Recently, as part of cooking more, and trying to change my life in general, I decided to give earnest weight loss another go. This time using MyFitnessPal, because I don't want to spend the money on WW.

If anyone out there, like me, finds the stark contrast between dieting and overindulgence a bit too much to leap into, here are just a couple tips I have adopted over the years.

1.) Give up soda and juice...mostly. I do not purchase soda at the store, and drink it only occasionally when I go out to dinner. I average about two sodas per month this way, which is enough to keep the craving for it down without the icky side effects I always got from drinking lots of sugary (or fake sugary) drinks.

2.) Add in fruit...then vegetables. I got in the habit of making sure I had enough fresh fruit to have a couple per day, and then took to making sure I had a couple good servings of veggies per day. Even if it was just a boring salad and a couple apples as snacks, it helps me to eat the nutritious foods and then fills me up enough that I am less likely to eat as much of the pasta/ice cream/beef/whatever else.

3.) Aim to walk 30 minutes per day. For me, walking calms me, and gives me a chance to reflect on my day. I have not always been the best with this, but even if I end up only getting out a few times per week, that is a few times more than if I did not have the habit of going at all.

For now, these are the biggies. I also stopped sweetening my tea, with the exception of a drop of honey in chai, and am a bit more mindful of how much sugar I consume.

I am not looking to lose weight super fast, I found last time that it was fairly unsustainable. Twenty pounds every four months feels sustainable to me, and would really add up over time. At my heaviest a couple weeks ago I weighed 315 pounds. I hope to weigh 295 or less by the end of this calendar year.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mango Peach Crisp

Few things are as comforting as dessert. I am normally a salt craving person, not sweet, but some sweet things are just too good to pass up. For me those things are brownies, fudge, Sour Patch Kids, ice cream...and fruit crisps. Normally apple crisp is all you can find, but once I realized how easy crisps are, I have been making them like crazy with any kind of fruit I can get my hands on! To date, I have done blueberry, strawberry rhubarb, peach, strawberry kiwi, and now mango peach.

Strawberry rhubarb is still the favorite...but I think mango peach is a close second. I use the recipe from the kitchn and it is fantastic. I only find that sometimes, the amount of butter is too much in the topping (I ended up with a very buttery blueberry crisp) and I just keep adding equal parts flour and oatmeal until the texture is what I want it to be. For me it is fairly dry, but still clumpy.

You can save topping, from what I hear, in the freezer...but I have never done that. Because topping is delicious, and more is always better when it comes to the crumbles.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Stress and Self Care

One thing I have been working on practically my whole life, and continue to tackle is managing my anxiety. I am happy and proud to report that I am, for the most part, in control of my anxiety the vast majority of the time. I was not always, and it was a long process of self analysis to figure out what triggers anxiety for me.

Unfortunately, the primary trigger, is transition periods. I am doing fairly well managing my anxiety about going from a relationship to being single, but am extremely anxious about student teaching instead. Spending the last two years hearing about how grueling it is, and how stressful, as well as how stressed and overworked we should be (a professor's comment, believe it or not), has made me feel entirely unprepared.

There is nothing more untrue than that feeling. I am entirely prepared. I have experience with handling groups of children already and am reasonably good at classroom management already. My lessons are always well thought out and are more often successful than not. I had a couple of previous field experiences that left me a little bit discouraged and frustrated, but others that really encouraged me and built me up. Everything is very dependent on the cooperating teacher for me in terms of feeling encouraged. I am meeting with my first cooperating teacher this Tuesday, and I am hoping that my anxieties will be significantly reduced as I help her set up her classroom and get to know the school.

Additionally, I am calling BS on a professor's claim that if I have any life at all outside of student teaching for the duration of the 15 weeks, then I am probably not making the most of the experience. An unhappy teacher is unlikely to have happy students. And a completely unbalanced life will always cause a teacher (or person) to be unhappy on some level. I want to be the very best I can be for the students, and give them the best I can give. To do that, I need to make sure I focus on self care as well as lesson planning.

So I am making a list of things I pledge to do during student teaching that are just for me, and will revive me so I can be more energized and dedicated to my work in return.

1. Walk at least 30 minutes, five days per week, weather permitting.
2. Manage my schedule so I put down all work and relax by 9pm most weeknights, if not all.
3. Try to dedicate one weekend day, or two half days each weekend day, to fun. Preferably with friends.
4. Take a bath weekly, and make time to do all the beauty pampering things I love so much.
5. Read one non academic book per week. *This one is a lofty goal, but I currently read at a pace of two to three books per week. Minimum of a book every other week.*
6. Start guided meditation. A friend gave me some she likes, and I want to start giving it a try.
7. If I can save up enough money, book a cheap hotel somewhere local (but not too local) and beautiful for a night during my week off in between placements.
8. Continue to make time for dating, albeit not super intensely, if a guy worth dating comes around.
9. Spend 20 minutes each day tidying up and cleaning, preventing the need to do much intense cleaning sessions and maintaining a space I love coming home to.
10. Keep cooking. As tired as I get. I am cooking some freeze-able things in the next couple weeks, but I also need to make time to make nutritious and healthy food (ideally with portable leftovers that can be easy and delicious lunches) at least on weekends so I can focus on other things during the week without sacrificing my health and weight loss goals.

I feel really good about the attitude I am going into this with - in December, I will recap and see which ones I was able to stick to!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


One thing I have really been making a concerted effort at is cooking more. I am 29 years old, living on a pretty strict budget, so eating out is not something I should be doing particularly often, and it is moderately embarrassing to have functional cooking skills at my age.

My ex was a great cook - I seem to be drawn to men who are. But, as I keep saying, time for some changes. I can be a great cook too. The very best cooks seem to not need recipes to make a lot of their best dishes. As it turns out, that is something I can do too, given a task simple enough.

One of my favorite dishes is salmon. Part of why I love it is that even fairly inept cooks can make it and it tastes good. I have been baking it with a little salt and pepper for years. I have also used plain Kraft Zesty Italian to marinate it, which is also pretty tasty. But by far the best way is with a dill yogurt sauce. Nothing revolutionary, but I didn't use a recipe for the one I made.

It is easy:
6oz plain greek yogurt
About 1tsp dried dill (really, however much or little as you want)
About 1/2 tsp garlic powder (1-2 cloves of fresh)
About 1tbsp white vinegar

Mix all together, and let sit in the fridge for at least a few hours so the flavors have a chance to really meld together. Then slather the sauce over the top of the salmon and let it marinate a little while. Bake as usual, which for me is usually 20-25mins at 350 degrees. When you take it out, excess moisture will be drawn out and the sauce will taste like herbed cheese. If you like goat cheese, you will love this.

If you don't normally think of yourself as a good cook, you'll love it even more.

Like Tag Team

I'm taking it back to the old school cuz I'm an old fool who's so cool!

90s hip hop is amazing, and I miss it every time I turn on the radio on to a Top 40 station nowadays. I find all the best people agree with me on that.

Who remembers LiveJournal? Or Xanga? I know I am dating myself even by knowing what those blogging platforms are. I used to have a xanga I was pretty dedicated to for awhile, and because this blog isn't really "themed" or any of that trendy nonsense people are doing these days, it will probably be pretty reminiscent of that kind of style. I am going to post when I like, which will probably be when I have time. I have time for the next three weeks. Then I begin student teaching and if my adviser is to be believed, my life will functionally end for 15 weeks. We shall see.

Right now, I have been spending the summer reviving myself after my breakup, learning to cook, and purging. Purging a lot of negativity to make space for new possibilities as well as purging old crap I no longer need in my physical space so there is room for maximum revamp. So far, I have been semi successful in both. My tidbit for this morning is this: if you haven't touched it in a year, time to reevaluate if you need it in your life. This goes for clothes, kitchenware, pretty much any object you own. I personally have found this to be very effective in reducing the overall clutter in my apartment, and I use the things I own so much more.

Bonus, works for fake friends on Facebook too. Life tip: if you are in fake friend overload and need a culling, try unfriending anyone you wouldn't wish "Happy Birthday" to every day for a year. Takes about five seconds of your time, gives you a much more personal Facebook experience, and I have multiple friends (real ones) who swear by this.

Maybe it is just me, but I see no benefit in having uselessness around me. Choosing to only be around people and things I appreciate and enjoy, when I can help it, was one big revamp step I didn't even realize I had taken a few years ago. Now it is even more important as I go into dating. And maintain my stance that hashtagging is a useless and bizarre trend I will not be partaking in.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hello, my name is Leah. I am...

...looking for a change.

So many women my age seem to be in this state of transition I appear to feel stuck in, have been stuck in for years, but only just noticed. Most of my friends are married, many of the ones who are not will be soon. Many of my friends are 5+ years into a successful career, despite the economy making that rather difficult for most of my graduating class. With these two things, they are moderately secure, financially and socially. These are the people who at least appear to have successfully navigated the transition from lost 20something to adult. Then there are the rest of us.

I recently broke up with the man I really thought I might spend the rest of my life with. However, things have a way of working out for the better when it comes to these things. I currently have a profile on a popular online dating site, OkCupid, on which I have had success in the past. Some days that fact fills my heart with excitement of the possibilities...and others it makes me lose all hope in humanity. Seriously, anyone who has done the online dating thing knows exactly what I am talking about. (No really - just google "okcupid fails" and like a shitton of sites come up documenting the insanity that is online dating. Here is just one example if you needed any more proof: )

I am about to break into a new career field, having never really established a career after college to begin with. As it turns out, when the economy shits the bed and the jobs start getting scarce, having a Bachelor's in Animal Behavior isn't particularly helpful. I worked in the animal care field until realizing I wouldn't be able to feed myself AND my cats with that money (very important for a single lady, you know, as we apparently are required to have some cats). Now, I am finishing up my certification in Early Childhood Education from a small PA school, because finding a teaching position is also rather difficult, but at least when you get one you AND your cats can afford to eat.

I am 29 years old, and I feel nearly as lost as when I was 22, though I am a slightly better cook now. But with student teaching this fall, dating new people for the first time in four years, I am ready for some other changes too. Baby steps like cooking things, organizing my apartment so it looks like a home, and developing my skills as a new teacher. So this blog is for me, documenting some of the changes that are happening and will be happening soon, changes I know have been happening for years now without my notice. And talking about things I like, like tea, and makeup, and animals, and whatever else I like. If you are here reading all this, I hope you enjoy. Or, I am sorry, depending on how interesting my dating life has become.