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FrenchBox Review

September 30, 2014
My friend Dre found out about a new subscription box called FrenchBox.  Because she knew about my interest in France, she signed me up for the first month's box.  She did not have to do that, but what can I say?  I have awesome friends.  

According to the FrenchBox website, every subscriber will receive at least five items from French brands that can be either full/sample sized.  At $24/month, it is one of the more expensive subscription services.  Luckily, when Dre ordered it for me there was a deal going on so that she could get $10 off the first box, so she only had to pay $14.  

The packaging: B+  I LOVED the packaging!  The box itself is adorable, sturdy and all of my items arrived in tact.  The only reason why I gave it a B+ and not an A+ is because the outer box wasn't sealed shut with tape.  I thought that was a little weird, honestly.  I mean, it made it very easy for me to open, but I guess I'd just feel more secure with tape on it so that the contents don't fall out/are less likely to get tampered with.

The Contents: A

The theme this month was Grape Harvesting Time, and on the front it said, "September is grape harvesting season in France.  We wanted to share this special event with you.  We are so proud and happy to present you with our first selection of French products."

What I received:

Information Card: All of my items besides one were pictured and described on the card.  The price and size of the products were also included.

Postcard: Although this month's postcard did not feature a quote that I personally love, I hope that in future months they'll be more "me" and then I'll be able to save and frame some of them. 

Recipe: This month's recipe was for Red-Wine Poached Pears.  I liked how they included a French recipe that fit the theme so well, although I don't really care for pears. I'll probably never make it, but I'm sure some of the future recipes will be more appealing to me. 

Caudalie Makeup Remover Cleansing Water- Even though we only got a sample size, I was happy to see this item!! I wear makeup almost every day and so makeup remover is an item that is practical for me, and this one works on both the eyes and face.  It's supposed to be gentle, too.

Sothys Protective Nail Enamel- I LOVE the color polish I received--perfect for fall!  Also, I wore this polish on my nails and it only had some minor chipping after 6 days.  I didn't even put a top coat on!  I'm curious to see how well it will hold up once I do apply some top coat.  FYI, a full sized Sothys polish retails for $17.00!

Sothys Waterproof Lip Pencil- This was the only item not pictured on the card and the only item I didn't really like in the box...Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it's a great lip liner, but I just don't ever use lip liner.  The color I received, Ecorce, is kind of a golden brown color and I don't even have any lipstick to match it.  I guess I could just fill in my lips with the liner, but I'm going to be honest and say that the color is just not my fave.

Missiu Eiffel Tower Bracelet- This bracelet was designed in France but made in Italy.  At first I was kind of questioning whether or not I'd wear an embroidered bracelet like this, but I decided that I do like it.  Getting the bracelet in one of my favorite colors (red!) didn't hurt, either.  I probably wouldn't wear it if I gotten it in some of the other colors...I'd for sure have to pass on the neon green one I saw some other subscribers get.

Buddy Fruits- These are just like fruit snacks, but without all the bad stuff (like preservatives) in them.  I got the raspberry kind and thought they were pretty tasty.  I saw some available on Amazon and don't know if I'd go out of my way to order some, but if I saw some at the store, I would pick some up.

Whispering Angel Wine Bag- The value of this bag alone is $15.  I would not pay that for the bag alone, although I do think it's very cute.  I do sometimes go to dinners where I bring a bottle of wine to share, so this would be a useful accessory to have around.

Value: A+/B+ Okay, since Dre paid $14 for the box, I thought it was an EXCELLENT value...but if she had paid $24, I would have to lower my score, hence the B+.  

Thoughts & Impressions:

FrenchBox reminded me of Glossybox in terms of the packaging.  The box that everything came in is one that I would save and re-use as a gift box, but I would also use it for storage or even to style some shelving. The extra touches like the ribbon and recipe card were very nice. 

Dre sent me the USPS tracking number and I was surprised to see that FrenchBox used 3 day shipping.  It actually took two extra days for it to arrive, but I think that had something to do with USPS being slow, so I blame them, not FrenchBox.

The Grape Harvesting theme was a pretty cool one and very French.  The wine bag and even the color polish fit the theme, but I'm not really sure how well some of the other items fit.  

I think $24/month is a little pricey for a subscription box, even though in this month's box the value was there.  I would subscribe to it on a monthly basis since I'd be able to cancel at any time, but probably would not take the plunge and purchase a subscription for a year. With that being said, I probably will wait a few months to subscribe just because I want to see that the FrenchBoxes are consistently full of items that I would like to receive.  A coupon code would also entice me to sign up sooner. :)  I thought it was an excellent value for $14/month, but for $24 I'm a little more hesitant.

What are your thoughts on FrenchBox? 
**This post does contain a few affiliate links for which I will receive a very small amount of compensation.

Reviewing Summer Goals + Weekly Wishes

September 29, 2014

Hello there!  I've been a bit overwhelmed trying to get into the swing of things at my new job, so that's why I couldn't post last week.  Even though I only took a week off, I seriously missed blogging!  To get back into the swing of things, I want to start by reviewing the goals I set for myself in the summer.  

My Summer 2014 Goals

* Apply for a South Carolina teaching license.  I did that and got the license!  Thank goodness South Carolina had reciprocity with Ohio!!  Since I had to go to Charleston to get my background check done, I also had the pleasure of spending the day there as an added bonus. :)

* Find a job.  This is something I got so concerned about, but in the end it finally did happen for me.  I was so worried that I would be stuck subbing another year, but thank goodness I ended up finding a full time teaching job.

*Lose 10 pounds. Soooo, I lost the 10 pounds by drinking a ton of water and exercising....but then I gained it all back.  Losing and maintaining a healthy weight has always been a huge (no pun intended) struggle for me.  I still need to work on this.

* I own a lot of dresses and strappy sandals that I just didn't get a whole lot of wear out of in Ohio.  I want to change that since it will stay nice and hot here in Georgia all summer. Yep, I wore my dresses and sandals quite often.  The only thing is that when we went to downtown Savannah I didn't wear those things because I wanted to wear comfy shoes to walk around in.  I avoided wearing nice dresses downtown since it was almost always in the 90's or over 100 degrees.  I just wore some old t-shirts and jean shorts because I didn't really care of those ended up drenched in sweat from walking around. 

* Go to Charleston.  Well, as I just said this totally happened since I had to go there anyway in order to get my finger prints/background check completed.

* Go to the beach at Hilton Head.  Yes, I got to go to the beach at Hilton Head.  I went twice with my roommates and then made it out to Hilton Head another time to see Rachael.  Although we didn't go to the beach, we did take a dolphin cruise, and that was pretty awesome in my book.

* Try boiled peanuts from a roadside stand. Accomplished!  At first I thought they were kinda nasty/mushy, but after I got used to them I kinda got hooked.

* Go thrift shopping in Savannah. Um, well I did some browsing at Civvies, but didn't actually buy anything.  I'd like to find a Goodwill, garage sale, or thrift shop to find some cheap furniture for my classroom.  

* Finish reading The Book Thief.  Done.  

* Read The Fault in Our StarsGone Girl, and Game of Thrones.  I finished the first two but I'm still reading Game of Thrones.  I haven't picked it up all week just because I haven't had the time, but hopefully I can at least read a couple of chapters today.

* Go out to eat at Sweet Potatoes.  Well, I didn't get to do this, but it's not technically my fault.  I must've brought it up to Ev and Jared 10 times or more, but it never seemed to happen for us.  I'll do a lot of things on my own, but when I go out to eat I tend to want company!  I'll have to put this one on the back burner until I can find someone who wants to go here with me.

* Buy new bedroom furniture.  I still haven't done this only because I haven't received my first paycheck yet.  Once I get paid, I'll be taking care of this.  In the very least, I'll get a new bed!

* Go out for drinks one night in downtown Savannah.  I went out for a martini at Lulu's Chocolate Bar, and it was pretty fabulous. :)

* Check out the Mars Theater that was recently renovated.  I still haven't done this yet, even though it's so close to where we live.  Okay, I'll see movies alone during the day, but at night I want a buddy!  This theater only plays movies on the weekend, at night.  We either already had other plans, Jared had to work, or Ev was too busy planning.  Hopefully we can make this happen soon!

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my progress on the goals I set for myself.  Checking out the Mars Theater and eating at Sweet Potatoes Kitchen are just for fun, anyway.  I am a little upset with myself for not losing the 10 pounds, but I'll just have to try harder.  It is kind of difficult here in the South because there are SO much deliciousness everywhere I turn!!  At least now that I have a steady job, I'll be on a schedule and maybe that will help me.

Now onto my goals for the upcoming week...

Weekly Wishes

1) Start looking into finding somewhere else to live.  I said before that I was okay living here, and I truly was.  When I said that, it was before I got a job over an hour away.  An hour commute might not sound like a big deal, but it takes me an hour to get to work if there is no traffic at all, which is never the case.  I usually spend about three hours a day driving, and really just can't take it.  In the morning, I have to leave an hour and forty-five minutes early in case there is a wreck and the road I have to take gets backed up.  There is only one way for me to get to where I need to go, so it's not like I could take an alternate route.  I'd rather spend part of that commute time doing more productive things like lesson planning. 

2) Get 8 hours of sleep every night.  Because of my long commute, this has been a struggle for me.  I need to be getting a good night's rest if I'm to be the best teacher I can be!  (Hello Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs!)

3) Try to blog three times/week.  I'm going to try my best to do this just because I really wanted to blog last week, but just couldn't find the time.  If this is going to happen, I'll probably have to pre-write three posts over the weekend, which isn't exactly my blogging style.  Oh well...I have to make adjustments since my life has changed. :)

4) Accomplish my teaching to-do list.  I feel like I have a million things on this list.  It's kind of overwhelming, but I'm just going to try my best.  I mean, that's all I can really do.  I also have to attend two professional development meetings after school next week and find time to meet with my mentor teacher at least once.

5) Read for 30 minutes before bed.  Despite how busy I get during the week, I think it's important to find a little time to relax, and to me, reading is relaxing.

It felt good to write out those goals! Now I just hope that I can achieve them all. :)  What is one thing you hope to accomplish this week?

**Linking up with Melyssa today for Weekly Wishes**

Better Than Winning the Lottery

September 19, 2014
After spending three years in Seoul, Korea teaching English as a Second Language, I came back to the States knowing that I wanted to go graduate school to obtain a Masters degree in Education.  I expected to go to school for two years, get my degree, and be on my merry way with a teaching job.  Looking back, I think it was a combination of bad luck and unrealistic expectations, but things didn't turn out quite as I planned.

Here's a little timeline outlining my experiences:

January 2009: Arrived back in the United States.

February 2009: Met with an advisor at Ohio State and explained that I was hoping to get into the Masters program there since it was ranked as one of the top five in the nation, there was a satellite campus close to where my parents' lived, I did my undergraduate degree at OSU, etc.  I explained to her that I had been overseas teaching in Korea and that's what led me to want to pursue an education degree.  The advisor looked at my transcripts and figured out what classes I would need to take.  She told me that I could sign up for classes in March when Spring Quarter started.  Her last question to me was, "Have you been living in Ohio for the past year?"  Um, lady...were you daydreaming when we just had an entire convo about me working in Korea for several years?  I had to say no.  She informed me that I had to call OSU's main campus to see if I would qualify as an Ohio resident.  It turns out, I did not.  I tried to fight it saying that I had to be an Ohio resident because if I wasn't an Ohio resident, then where was I a resident of?  Korea? Don't think so!  My argument didn't work and the lady I spoke with put me on hold for a long time and then came back and told me, "You are an Ohio resident, but not for tuition purposes." That meant that I either had to wait a year to establish residency in Ohio or pay the fee for out-of-state tuition.  When I looked at the out-of-state fees, they were about triple the amount of what Ohio residents had to pay per quarter.  I decided to look into going to private universities since some private colleges don't have extra fees for non-residents.  The advisor at OSU told me that I'd have to do a year of prerequisite courses and then one year and one quarter of graduate school and I'd be done.  That didn't seem too bad for someone who had never had an education class.  A reason why it was such a short time period was because, like I said already, I did my undergraduate degree at OSU, so I didn't have to worry about courses not transferring.  Unfortunately, when I did look into private colleges, a lot of my coursework didn't transfer over, so I was looking at three years to just get my teaching license and no Masters.  In the end, I just decided that I would wait it out and attend school at OSU again.

April 2009-May 2010: Started working as a toddler teacher in a daycare and waited a whole year to establish my Ohio residency.  I had to fill out tons of paperwork and provide all sorts of "proof" like the a copy of the title to my car, pay stubs, rent receipts, etc.  After a year of waiting, I was granted Ohio residency for tuition purposes and signed up to take classes for Summer Quarter.  My main beef with the whole having to wait a full year for tuition purposes was that I found out that they did away with it shortly after I qualified for in-state tuition.  That was a frustrating piece of news!  Now as long as you graduate from an Ohio high school (which I did), you are considered a "Forever Buckeye" and qualify for the in-state tuition.

June 2010-June 2011: Completed all of my prerequisite courses in a year.  I had to take 2 extra courses on top of the three that every other college senior was taking, but I did it!  Also, during this time, I had to take the GRE and apply to the M.Ed program at OSU.  I got accepted and then had a summer off to work, save some money, and enjoy being Maid of Honor in both of my younger sisters' weddings.

September 2011-June 2013: I took courses full time at OSU for my M.Ed and completed over 1,000 hours in the field.  (It was a rigorous program, but I had some good field experiences.)  Now, September 2011-June 2013 is definitely not the "one year and one quarter" I was promised, but what happened was that the state of Ohio made all universities switch over to semesters.  Because of the mandatory switch, my cohort and I ended up having to go several extra months and our graduation was pushed back til June.

June 2013: Well, even though we were told we could graduate in June, it turns out my friend Scott and I had to delay our graduation because of our study abroad trip to South Africa.  We had already put a deposit on our trip and were told that our graduation date would not be affected, but then later were informed that we could only get the credit hours for our study abroad trip at no extra cost if we postponed our graduation until August.  If we wanted to graduate in June, we would have had to pay over a thousand dollars in tuition for the credit hours for our trip.  We were both a little upset over this, but decided that getting to go to South Africa and not paying the extra money was worth delaying our graduation for just a few months.

August 2013: I went to my graduation ceremony at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus and was so happy to finally be done and walk out of there with my degree!  What I thought was going to take me two years and one quarter turned out to be a commitment that lasted over three years, but I didn't even care because I had earned my degree... Except that when I opened up my diploma case, there was no diploma at all!  Instead, there was a note saying that there was a freeze on my account because I didn't pay a fee.  I knew that I had paid everything, so I was flipping out.  It turns out that I was awarded $1,000 in grant money for my South Africa trip, but then it was taken away for some unknown reason.  Since the grant was taken back, it left me owing $1,000.  I called the financial aid office on the main campus and they just told me to pay it, but I refused...I was told I would get the grant, was awarded it...and, after all, how can you "ungrant" a grant??  I called Scott and asked him if this had happened to him since we were in the same program, took all the same classes, went on the same trip, and had the same graduation day.  He told me that he got his diploma with no problem at all and teased me saying, "Bad Luck Lisa strikes again!"  Lol, he told me he is convinced I'm jinxed, but I insist that while I do have crazy stupid bad luck, I also have amazingly good luck, too.  It never seems to just be neutral.  Anyhow, after making a zillion phone calls and e-mailing several advisors, I finally got my diploma at the very end of August.  However, since I didn't know what was going on with my degree, I had to stop applying to teaching jobs because the admin or secretaries would ask me when I would be get my degree, and I couldn't tell them an answer.  Honestly, in mid-August there really weren't that many jobs to apply to in my area, anyway.  I decided that I was okay subbing for a year to get my foot in the door, and I could also apply to any jobs that opened up in the middle of the year.  The school that I did my student teaching at was looking for subs, and I was hoping that a position would eventually open up.

August 2013-May 2014: I subbed in two districts and even subbed long-term for a teacher that was out for three weeks in May.  While I loved one of the districts and would have applied there in a heartbeat, there was only one job opening for third grade.  Instead of hiring a new teacher, they moved the kindergarten teacher to 3rd grade.  I get that.  It makes total sense, but I knew I was unwilling to wait years for a job to open up.  In Ohio, there is a surplus of teachers and it's hard to find a job especially in the area that I lived in.  Some of the teachers at the school I subbed at told me that they subbed for eight years before getting their job!  Also, as I mentioned on here last spring, a local district mismanaged their funds and ended up having to lay off over a hundred staff members and closed a couple of their schools.  That resulted in even more teachers looking for work in a pool that was already too large for my liking!  A nearby school held interviews for one job and over 200 teachers applied.  Two hundred!  Most of my friends did get teaching jobs in Ohio work for private schools, but I want to work in public education.  At that point, I knew I had move to where there were a decent amount of openings.  Plus, I had been wanting to relocate down South for awhile.  Those numbers gave me the push I needed to take a chance.

June 2014: I moved to a small city near Savannah and applied to almost twenty teaching jobs in South Carolina and waited.  Much to my dismay, I learned that I could not apply to teach in the Georgia school district closest to me because I do not have my reading endorsement.  That is a whole other can of worms I don't really feel like getting into that much, but basically, some states passed laws that all teachers (current and future) must hold a reading endorsement in order to teach in early childhood.  I heard nothing about this endorsement being a requirement for teachers in certain states until my last semester of college.  To get the endorsement at OSU, the cost is about $10,000 and anyone not enrolled in a degree program (which I wouldn't be since I already graduated) would not be eligible for student loans to help pay for the endorsement.  As a semi-recent graduate, I don't have $10,000 to just throw at a reading endorsement, so I am ineligible to teach in the Georgia school near me.  That's why I applied to be a substitute teacher and not a regular classroom teacher here in Georgia. 
July and August 2014: I kept calling to check on my application for subbing.  I was informed that I could sub every single day if I wanted to and was led to believe that there would always be jobs available.  Unfortunately, I wasn't hearing back from the subbing place as fast as I would have liked to/wasn't even sure what was going on, as I wrote about in a past post.

September 2014: After an interview, two training sessions, a background check, a drug test, and another visit to fill out paperwork, I was finally hired as a sub!  The only problem was that when I logged on the site to book jobs, there was nothing available.  I saw a single job posting and it was for a half-day in a special education room.  I went to Google the school to see if it was close to me, and by the time I finished my Google search, someone else had already taken the job!  When I subbed last year, I did take some same-day jobs, but most of the time I was able to book them way in advance.  I started freaking out thinking that maybe I would have to move back to Ohio where I knew I could sub practically every day of the week, if not every single one.  And...That's when I got the call...for...a pre-screening interview at a South Carolina school district!  That led to me getting a phone call for an interview directly with the school principal!   And NOT just for subbing--for an actual teaching job!! I was beginning to think open teaching positions were just myths, lol.  As soon as I walked into the school yesterday, I just got a good vibe.  The secretary was friendly, smiled at me, told me it was nice to meet me and asked if I found the place okay.  The lobby of the school was inviting and clean.  There were rocking chairs, pamphlets for parents, a little table with paper and crayons for kids.  The room was nice and bright, there was mosaic artwork hanging on the walls, and there were even plants.  You can tell a lot about a school from the atmosphere, as soon as I walked in, I got the sense that this was a school run by people who cared.  I don't typically like interviews because I got unbelievably nervous, but the principal and assistant principal just had a calm demeanor about them.  About halfway through the interview I realized that I was actually ENJOYING myself answering those questions.  I had a chance to ask questions to the principal and assistant principal I agreed with their philosophies.  I could tell that they were hands-on and made their presence known throughout the school, but felt like they were there to actually help and support the teachers.
Once I heard more about the job itself, I was even more convinced that it was the one for me.  The opening was for a first grade position.  First/K are my desired grade levels, so that was already a plus.  Then I found out that the room is a Mandarin immersion room and I would be co-teaching with a Chinese teacher because the students in the class are in a language immersion program.  Although I won't be the one instructing students in another language, I believe in immersion programs and in the importance of learning a second language early on.  I studied French at a French immersion school,  and I when I taught in Korea, it was English immersion.  I have worked with foreign teachers in the past and even team-taught with some Korean teachers, so I'm really looking forward to working with the Chinese teacher.  I couldn't have imagined a better fit for myself if I tried.  After the official interview, I was given a tour of the school and was allowed to step into the classroom for a bit.  I drove home thinking, "I really hope that I got this..."  I finished my drive home and noticed that I had a voice mail.  I thought it was my sister calling to see how my interview had gone, but I saw that it was from the school!!  I played the message and on it was the most glorious thing I've ever heard in life which was the sound of the principal offering me the job!!!  I played that message to myself over and over because I FINALLY got what I wanted.  To say I am excited would be underestimating things.  I am beyond ecstatic!  When the assistant principal and I got to talk, she told me, "We both felt that you would be an excellent fit for our school.  We should have just hired you on the spot."  I told her that I felt like the school was a good fit for me as well, especially that position because it combines my love for international studies (my first degree) and teaching!  I hope to create themed units on China so that students can learn more about the country.  I have been walking around with a huge grin on my face and feel that a huge burden has been lifted.

I told you my back-story, so you can see that finally securing a teaching job isn't something I take lightly.  I realize now that I was spoiled rotten to get a good teaching job in Korea with just an undergraduate degree not even in the field of education.  The journey to getting my own classroom the the States took longer than I would have liked, but now that I have my very own students, I'm going to be working my tail off trying to make sure my students receive a high-quality education!  I just feel like I need to pinch myself because I have been wanting to get my own classroom for more than five years, and even though there have been obstacles, I couldn't imagine a better ending to my story.  I'm happier now than I think I would be if I won the lottery.

Wednesday Confessions

September 17, 2014
I haven't had a good confession session in awhile, so here goes nothing!

* If the house phone rings, I never answer it.  I haven't given one person the house #, and since I know it's not for me, I just don't bother with it.

* I'm not really sure where all of my clothes are... I thought I packed all my good ones in my big suitcase when I moved, but I'm still missing items that I thought I brought but I guess they're back in Ohio.  It kind of sucks when you have the perfect shirt to wear with a certain pair of pants only to realize you don't have the shirt with you.

* Our neighbors that rented the other side of our duplex are moving out, and I'm not too sad about it.  They were nice to my face, but Ev's mom and Jared both said that they made comments about my car.  Like when I first moved in one of them texted Jared saying that there were too many cars and we had to change the way we parked now because of my extra car.  Really?  If you knew our parking situation, you would laugh because the way it's done around here is you just pull in through the front yard and park in the backyard.  There isn't an actual driveway, so the whole backyard wasn't big enough to fit my car?  Please.  We never did change the way we parked--she said we should start parking nose in.

* I was warned by many that down South there were way more bugs.  Duh.  I guess my main concern was always roaches.  Before I agreed to move into this apartment, I grilled Ev about if he had ever seen a roach/how many/how common was it/what was the possibility one could get into our house, etc. Satisfied with all of his answers, I moved in... Well, about a week and a half ago I just happened to be awake and a HUGE cockroach crawled under my door!  The worst part was that both of my roommates were sleeping, so I had to deal with it myself then and there.  There was no way I was going to let that bugger escape because then I'd never be able to sleep with it lurking around.  I took care of it, but...gross... I told Ev about it and he laughed saying that cockroaches are a common problem in the South and that it must have gotten in from the outside when the door was open.  I asked if it had anything to do with dishes not being washed instantly every single time, even though we try our best to stay on top of it.  Ev assured me that a cockroach that big wasn't an issue of how dirty/clean we are and explained that the little ones are more commonly associated with filth.  He said that if we started to see a lot of little ones around food then we should start to worry but that a lone big cockroach just got in like how any other common insect might have.  I've dealt with roaches in my accommodation when traveling to other countries, but in Ohio I've never, ever seen a roach in any place I've ever lived in or in any of my friends' places.  It was not my favorite experience to have one in our home, and this better not become a regular occurrence.  It does make me feel better that the exterminator regularly checks our place and that he was just here and said that there were no problems.

* Last year my sis bought me some Philosophy Pumpkin Pie bath gel and gave it to me for Christmas.  I have seriously been waiting all year to use it because I wanted to wait and use it in the fall.  Time to finally break it out, yay!

* I had a nightmare about Pennsatucky from Orange is the New Black.  I thought maybe it was the teeth, but SPOILER ... as you know she gets her teeth fixed, but she's still pretty terrifying, hahaha.

* A friend of mine ordered me a new subscription box called FrenchBox.  You get beauty, fashion, or lifestyle items from France in every box.  I can't wait for it to come!

* I think (hope) I am a pretty good speller and that hasn't been an issue for me, but for some reason I am terrible at knowing whether or not something is one word or two.  Is it linkup or link up?  Is it nevermind or never mind?  Website or web site?  Don't trust me at all when compound words are concerned, because they trick me.

* The other day I was eating some Kix and a couple spilled out of my bowl.  Is it bad that I didn't even bother to pick them up because Claude was right next to me and I knew he would just go over and eat them?  (Again, this proves how we have almost no crumbs on our floor for the little cockroaches to be attracted to.)

* I walked over to the local Goodwill donation trailer to drop off some clothes I don't wear anymore.  They were all in good condition, but no longer fit me well.  When I saw the guy that was working, I smiled and said, "Hello."  He didn't say a word and snatched the bag out of my hand instead of just taking it and still didn't say anything, so I walked away feeling awkward.  It really rubbed me the wrong way, and next time I'm going to drive and donate directly at the store.

* I buy a lot of my pants from Alloy because they are one of the few places that has very long inseams.  I just noticed that recently they started charging an extra $2 for pants with longer inseams which was always free before.  I guess I get it because extra fabric is required, but I still don't approve, lol.

* Last week I went on a pre-screening interview for a regular teaching job.  More details on this coming in tomorrow's post. :D

**Linking up with Kathy today for Humpday Confessions**

Link Love + BFC Mug Swap Reveal

September 16, 2014
I've never done a Link Love post, but decided to go ahead and finally do one.  Why not?  :)  
Also, listing out my links for y'all means I can go head and link up with Erica for Listed Tuesday today!  
  • The United Sweets of America-  I came across this article a few days ago and oh my!  If you love desserts like me, it is worth a look because the author picks a dessert to best represent every state.  There is an interactive map that has a picture of the chosen dessert on top of every state and when you click on the picture, an explanation of why she chose that particular dessert pops up.  I thought the author did a good job picking out Buckeyes for Ohio's dessert, so I went on to check out her other picks...because I love state/regional specialties, especially when they're sweet.  This article taught me a little about history and I learned about new types of desserts that I had never heard of before such as kuchen, krumkake, and bizcochito.  Head on over and see if you agree with the dessert she picked for your state!  Apparently several people from Wisconsin and Alabama disagree with her choices.  Either way, it was an interesting read!
  • Confetti Nails- Kallie @ But First, Coffee posted a tutorial on how to create this colorful look.  Honestly, I don't actually do a lot of the nail art tutorials I see because they are too intricate, but this one looks easy enough and the result sure is cute.
  • Wiener Dogs are A-Holes- I started noticing that sometimes Claude acts a little passive aggressive.  One time I wouldn't let him in my room when he was whining, and he tore up a Subway wrapper into pieces and then pooped on the floor after I had just let him out.  I feel like he was almost trying to "punish" me just because I didn't let him into my room right away.  After we went to Ohio to visit for a week, he treated my roommates and I like chopped liver when we came back home.  I thought that he would be excited to see us, but he completely ignored all of us for almost two weeks because I swear he was mad that we left him behind!  (Ev's mom stopped by and took good care of him.)  Claude would seriously walk away when I tried to pet him which he never did before.  He didn't even head-butt my door trying to get into my room which he usually does several times a day.  Thankfully, I guess he has forgiven us and he's back to his loving self.  Anyway, I started Google searching "characteristics of dachshunds" and came across this hilarious post written by Jessie @ My Messie Life.  I laughed so hard while reading it because so much of what was written was true of Claude, too!  Jessie also experienced some of the vindictive dachshund behavior.  At least I know that it's typical of the breed...Sorry, Claude, you're a complete stereotype! 
  • Pumpkin Spice Whip Dip I've been looking at fall recipes to try, because I definitely need my yearly pumpkin spice fix.  I came across this dip recipe, and it looks so good!  The best part is that it's easy to make and the dip requires only four ingredients.  
  • DIY Jewelry Tutorials  This was posted in April, but I just came across it via Pinterest.  It has links to 51 different tutorials!  I found a couple of pieces I'd love to make!

But First, Coffee Mug Swap Reveal

For the BFC Mug Swap, my partner was Ashley @ The Artsy Apple.  Ashley and I had plenty to write about since she is also in the field of education.  I recommend taking a look at her blog if you're a teacher, want some drool-worthy recipes, or are interested in DIY projects.  

Now for the reveal of the mug Ashley got for me...

Isn't it cute??  It's perfect for me, too!  #cupcakeaddict  

Here are 5 posts written by Ashley that I highly suggest you take a look at:

1) A Tour on Tuesday: In this post, Ashley shares her favorite parts of her home.  The last pic is of the mug I got her for the mug swap!

2) Basically #Basic Among Other Things:  I absolutely LOVE guacamole, but the recipe I have requires a lot of ingredients.  This post contains a recipe for guacamole that is super simple!  Plus, there are two other perfect-for-fall recipes.  I won't ruin the surprise, but you probably won't be disappointed. :)

3) Friday Five: My Natural Habitat: This post has pics of some of the CUTEST classroom decorations I've ever seen.  It inspired me!

4) Poppin' Champagne: Ashley shows you how to change an old champagne or wine bottle into a nice decoration for your house.

5) Popping the Question: See how Ashley popped the question to see if her future bridesmaids would be a part of her wedding.

What are some good posts from other bloggers that you've read lately?

Listed Tuesday

Roommate Update

September 15, 2014
Earlier this summer I wrote about the ups and downs of having roommates.  Even though I had some bad experiences in the past, I decided to give it a chance and live with two of my guy friends.  I just wanted write a little update on my situation and share how it's going so far.  For the most part, I am really happy with my situation.  So, why do I like having roommates?  Well, I guess I should say that I don't just like having ANYONE as my roommate, but I do enjoy living with Everett and Jared for the time being.  They are both great guys with my best interest at heart.  Besides that, there's the obvious reason that it's cheaper since rent and bills are split three ways.  We also save money on gas since we go places together.  

My roommates Jared and Everett

Here are some other reason why I like living with these two guys:

*We help each other out.  When I first got an i-Phone and had some questions about some of the apps, Jared gladly explained it to me.  Everett helped me with the fax machine when I had to send over copies of important documents to get my Georgia and South Carolina teaching license.  I've helped them out, too.  I feed and let Claude out when they're at work and let them borrow my car several times when their car got a flat tire.  It's just nice to have people to turn to and I hope they feel the same way about me!

*I think I would be scared to live alone.  Okay, I lived alone for two years in Korea and loved it, but I always felt very safe in Seoul for the most part.  Maybe I watch too many scary movies, but I just feel more secure having two guys around.  Something super freaky happened to my sister when she was living alone and that made me think twice about wanting my own place.  

*It's nice to have someone to talk to.  Yes, I know that I've said before on here that I'm an introvert, but the guys respect that.  I'm not a complete hermit though and like having friends right there to chat to, laugh with, or confide in.  

*Jared likes to cook and usually shares! I don't mind cooking from time to time, but ughhh, cooking is the worst when you feel obligated, so I'm glad there is someone in our house who actually likes making stuff.  Jared has made lasagna, tortellini, fried cabbage, casserole, and coffee cake, just to name a few dishes he's prepared.  I always say that I will do the dishes...I'd really rather do them than cook!  

* They kill bugs for me.  Lol, I'm such a baby with this, but if I can avoid creepy crawly things, I will. Also, Jared got rid of a hornet's nest outside our door...I don't know what I would have done if I lived alone...Probably spray it with water, scream, and get stung.

* I automatically have something to do.  As you likely know already, I moved down here in mid-June so I don't know anyone yet besides my roommates and some of Ev's family.  I feel like if I lived alone down here, we would have to make plans to hang out and it'd just be harder to actually do.  Most of the time we just decide to go out and do something on the spur of the moment, so I know that I'd be missing out on some of those opportunities if I lived alone.  

* They are supportive and I can tell that they genuinely want me to stay here.  Everett called the principal of his school and told her to look for my resume.  Jared has a co-worker who is a teacher and his pal said he would request me to sub his class and would tell all the teachers in his school to request me.  

* It's drama-free.  Since the two of them lived together before I got here, I was a little worried about moving in.  What if I didn't fit in or if I upset their dynamic in some way?  Also, I've dealt with crazy roommates in the past and feel too old to go through that now.  I decided to test it out and see how it went, and I have to say that I'd be willing to live with them longer.  

No, I don't plan on living with these guys forever, but for now it works.  Also, I REALLLLY want to get my student loans paid off as soon as possible, and the extra money I can save from having roommates can go right towards those loans.  

Do you like living with other people or do you prefer to live alone?

Savannah Bucket List

September 12, 2014
  • Eat at The Pirates' House, where actual pirates used to be served in the 1700's.  It's supposedly haunted by pirates who died there.
  • Take a kayak tour on Tybee Island.
  • Go downtown to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Savannah has one of the biggest festivals in the whole U.S.
  • Visit Forsyth Park during all four seasons.  (So far, I've done winter and summer.)
  • Visit the Asendorf House aka "The Gingerbread House."  This house looks really cool and like it came straight out of fairy tale.
  • Take the hearse tour.  Basically, you sit in a hearse (yes, it used to be operational) and are driven all over Savannah to haunted spots.  You will hear some spooky stories for sure. Done. 
  • Watch a show at The Savannah Theatre, the oldest theatre in the United States that has operated continuously. 
  • Attend the Savannah Food and Wine Festival.
  • Stay overnight at a bed and breakfast downtown...Of course Everett wants to stay in a haunted one like the Kehoe B&B or The Foley House Inn.  
  • See fireworks on River Street.  Done.  I got to go with Rachael for the 4th of July this year!
  • Go to the annual Pride Festival. Apparently it is this weekend!!
  • Eat ice cream at Leopold's.  Done.  (But I wouldn't like this to be a one time thing!)  
  • Go for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.  
  • Make new friends by attending a Meetup.com event.
  • Make Savannah Red Rice, one of Paula Deen's recipes.
  • Walk through Colonial Cemetery, which contains mass graves for those who died of yellow fever.  According to all the guides on ghost tours, this is a hot spot for paranormal activity. 
  • Attend the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD)'s fashion show.
  • Tour the Sorrel-Weed house, which is a historic home.
  • Go on a Savannah River boat cruise.  They have a lot of different ones to choose from like a Murder Mystery one, a Gospel one, or one that includes brunch.
  • Read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and also watch the movie.  The story is set in Savannah and many locals say that the author "pegged" the feel of Savannah in his work.
  • Check out Bonaventure Cemetery.  Done.
  • Go on a shopping spree.  From the regional gifts on River Street to the locally owned boutiques, Savannah does have some great shopping spots.  Some stores I'm interested in purchasing from are Paris Market & Brocante, Savannah Bee Company, and Civvies to name a few.  Another place I'd like to shop in is the City Market area.
  • Attend a mass at St. John the Baptist.  It would be amazing to go on Christmas Eve, though I'm sure it would be packed.
  • Sample cookies at Byrd Cookie Company.  The shop has gourmet cookies in all sorts of flavors like: butter, key lime, chocolate macaron, and peach cooler.
  • Get my palm read.  (Just for fun!!)  There are a couple of places in Savannah that offer palm readings like Psychic Readings by Sylvia.
  • Have tea and snacks at the Gryphon Tea Room. Done.
  • Visit the Juliette Gordon Low house.  In case you didn't know (and I didn't before I moved here), Juliette Gordon Low is the one that founded the Girl Scouts.
  • Go to one of the squares and have a picnic.  
  • Listen to the Gregorian Chant at Christ Church.  I'm not very religious and I'm not even Protestant, but I've heard this is a beautiful performance.  It's done at night by candlelight.
  • Go for a Savannah Slow Ride.  It's basically a 15 seat bicycle!

What things would you like to do in Savannah?  Is there anything I didn't mention that you can recommend?  Please note, I think I'm going to make a  separate Savannah bucket list for restaurants because there are just too many that I want to try!

7 Baby Products Adults Can Use + Paypal Cash Giveaway

September 9, 2014
I've been reading a lot about how using most shampoos can be bad for your hair and strip it of its natural moisture.  This can lead to your scalp producing even more oil and causing your hair to look greasy, so I've been considering joining in on the No-Poo Shampoo movement.   Since there is some adjustment time with the No-Poo Movement where your hair can end up looking pretty rough, I thought that maybe I would just try to use a gentler kind of shampoo first.  That's when I thought of trying out Johnson's Baby Shampoo in Calming Lavender to see if it made a difference.  I've only been using it for a few days, but it made my hair a lot softer and slightly less greasy.  I think I need to use it for a longer period to see if it will make a big difference.  Ideally, I'd like to wash my hair every other day without my hair being oily on the sides in the morning of Day 2.  I already like this product so far because I find the smell of lavender appealing, but unfortunately most lavender scented perfume oils and lotions are just too overpowering for me.  Since this product is intended for babies, the scent is much lighter, which I personally found more pleasing.  Another plus about this baby shampoo is that it does have some alternate uses.  Before I bought this product for myself, I read some online reviews and found that this can be used as a mild detergent for washing delicate items.  It can also be used to clean makeup brushes and several people said they used it as a body wash, too.   

Using a baby product for my hair got me thinking about other baby products I might want to try.  In general, baby products are milder, made with more natural ingredients and are paraben-free, and are ideal if you have sensitive skin or certain allergies.  I did some searches on the internet and found six more baby products that I would like to try in addition to the Johnson's baby shampoo I just mentioned.

* SheaMoisture Raw Shea Chamomile + Argan Oil Baby Healing Lotion

This product came up in several of my searches,  and it sounds like it is a wonderful lotion to help repair skin and keep it moisturized.   The original formula was developed by a widowed mom in Sierra Leone who sold shea butter products as a way to help support her four children.  It's made with "natural and certified organic ingredients" in the USA and it's not tested on animals.  The chamomile is supposed to be soothing for irritated skin, while the Vitamin E packed Argan Oil helps skin stay soft. 

*Baby Bee Face & Hand Cloths

These are basically wet wipes, and I don't know about you, but I find it handy to have some of these in my purse.  The other day I got an Auntie Anne's cinnamon sugar pretzel and could have used something like this!  The reason why I'd chose this product over regular wet wipes is because these wipes use natural cloths.  Plus, the product does not contain methylisothiazolinone, which is a harmful preservative used in many baby wipes.  On the Burt's Bee's website these are on sale right now for $4.80 instead of the usual $6.00. 

* Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock Stick SPF 60

This product contains pure sunscreen and is described as being very gentle.  I need extra SPF protection since I live in the South and also because I have very pale skin.  An SPF of 15 would never cut it for me since I'm prone to getting burns.  Made especially for the sensitive skin of babies, this hypoallergenic product could also be great for someone like my sister who tends to have an allergic reaction to most sunscreens.  I also like that it is in the form of a stick so that it is easier to apply.  It's a handy size to carry around in my purse for when I would need to re-apply during the day. 

* Johnson's Baby Oil

Baby Oil is a good way to moisturize adult skin, especially rough patches on elbows or on the soles of feet.  It's also really good for your cuticles, it can be used as a massage oil, and you can use this instead of shaving cream.  I found a blog post that lists 45 uses for baby oil if you're interested!

* Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream

According to the product description, this cream is "enriched with skin-soothing natural colloidal oatmeal, soy, and milk proteins to help restore lost moisture for the relief of dry skin associated with eczema."  I've had good luck with Aveeno creams before, especially in the winter since my skin gets pretty dry.  This product is supposed to last up to 24 hours and is fragrance-free. 

*Baby Bee Buttermilk Soap

This French-milled soap is on sale right now for $4.00 on the Burt's Bees website.  It's 99.9% natural, and the buttermilk in the soap is rich "in fats and emollients" for softer skin.  I don't know if I would use this soap on a baby because even though the ingredients are natural, it can still hurt a baby's eyes/it's not tear-free, so I actually think this product might be better for adults! 

Do you currently use any baby products?  If not, would you be interested in trying any? 

**This post contains some affiliate links for which I receive a small amount of compensation, however all opinions are my own.**

Also, check out this giveaway I'm a part of! Good luck! :)

Health and Fitness Goals

September 5, 2014
As I mentioned previously, I will be participating in the Choose Your Own Adventure link up hosted by Steph,Steph, and Ashley. I wanted to go ahead and post my goals on here so that I'll feel more accountable which will make me more likely to stick to them! The theme is all about fitness, but I decided to add some food related goals because what you eat and working out go hand in hand, right?

* Take my roommate's dog Claude on a walk at least two times a week.  This will not only be good for me, but Claude also need to lose some weight.  My roommate is a teacher and leaves at about 6:30 AM for school and usually doesn't come home til 8 or 9 because he's doing stuff for his classes at the school...Needless to say, he doesn't have time to take Claude on walks during the week.  Claude needs to get out and move around, and so do I.    

* Cook a healthy, home-cooked meal twice a week for dinner.  Ever since my roommates both started making dinners at home, Everett lost about 10 pounds just from not eating fast-food!  I figure if we take turns cooking for each other it won't be too hard to have a nice meal every night.  I should prepare something soon because Jared made a couple of meals this week and offered me some, so it would be rude not to cook something for them in return.  Having a filling meal instead of something microwaveable (and processed) will help me feel fuller longer so that I will be less likely to snack later.

* Don't eat after 8 pm.  I really don't need to be eating stuff this late.  If I have three meals and a few snacks in between, there's no reason to be eating anything after dinner.

* Buy a new scale and monitor weight.  I think it's great if you're one of those people that doesn't have to look at a scale to lose weight, but I am very numbers-driven.  I find it encouraging to see the numbers go down, and right now I don't have an accurate way of weighing myself.  My roommates have a scale, but I don't trust it!  According to their scale, I gained 20 pounds one week.  Another time there was a ten pound difference after 24 hours.  No way!  The thing has to be busted, so I need to go out ASAP and  get a new one.

* Eat more fruits and vegetables.  I have been doing better with this because I've been making a lot of smoothies for lunch or breakfast and have been making them with strawberries, blueberries, and bananas.  Like I said, one of my roommates has been preparing dinners and he will usually make one or two vegetable side dishes, but I need to do better with opting for healthier snacks like carrots or grapes.  

* Watch portions and limit desserts.  I am going to make a conscious effort to put less food on my plate to start out with.  If I'm still hungry, I'll go and get more, but, like most people I tend to eat more if I have a larger portion right in front of me.  As for the desserts...they are my weakness!!  I'm going to try to only have one every other day or less.  I really think I'm addicted to sugar and saying no to the sweets will be my biggest challenge.

* Start lifting 5lb weights and do arm exercises.  While I'll never have Madonna or Michelle Obama arms, I can at least try to tone them up a bit, right?  I'm going to use this video from PopSugar to help me out.  

* Lose 5-10 pounds.  I think a month is ample time to do this...Honestly, in the past I've done cleanses (aka starved) and lost 10 pounds in a week.  I'm definitely not going to diet or starve because I'll just gain it back, but I'm hoping that if I follow most of the other goals I have listed that at least some weight will come off.  

* Drink 8 full glasses of water a day.  I used to always accomplish this, but lately I've been getting in a bad habit of only having a few glasses of water.  Staying hydrated is always a good idea, especially in the South.

* Move around more.  I WAS doing a great job of walking at the pond with Everett, but ever since he went back to school I haven't had an exercise buddy.  I don't know if I really want to walk around the pond alone...just because I've seen some weirdos there and apparently one time I was there, there was a 5 foot snake (Ev and his brother swear by it, but I didn't see this snake myself.)  Just because I'm not out at the pond doesn't mean I can't go on walks in town.  When I'm watching Netflix, I could even lift weights WHILE watching shows instead of, you know, just lying there.

* Only go out to eat once per week.  When I go out to eat I usually eat more than I would if I stayed home.  Back in Ohio, I would at least get a take-away box for my extra food and bring it home so I could have it the next day.  In Savannah, I find myself trying to eat a lot more because I don't want to carry around a box with me all day/the food would go bad in the heat and from not being refrigerated for hours.  Also, I'm not working right now, so I really should be saving my money by cooking at home.  

* Only drink low-fat milk in small quantities, water, and coffee.  (Okay, and maybe add in just one or two alcoholic drinks/week.)  I don't need to be consuming my calories in liquid form unless it's a smoothie, but I'll have one of those instead of a meal or snack, not along with one.  Most drinks would just be full of a ton of sugar which I'm sure I already consume enough of.  Also, I just can't bring myself to drink skim milk anymore...Gotta agree with Ron Swanson on that one...

This is the first meme I ever used on my blog...I figured I had better make it a good one.
* Don't consume any fast-food.  I've actually been doing great with this one already, but want to keep up with it.  If I'm desperately starving/feeling too lazy to cook, I'll go to Subway and get a turkey sub...so I guess Subway would be the exception to this rule.  

Okay, so I did kind of make a lot of rules for myself, but I don't think I made anything too hard to where I would instantly set myself up for failure.  It's not like I cut off sweets altogether or said I needed to be walking Claude 6 days a week.

What are your fitness goals? Will you be participating in this link up?