Monday, September 8, 2014

Mailbox Monday

How was your weekend? For our only weekend in town, we spent a lot of time hanging around the house. Lots of couch time. Lots of reading. Lots of relaxing. We know we are going to need it! As much as I love being on the go, I know that slow weekends at home are practically a necessity.

Anyway. I was thinking earlier this weekend that I didn't think I had anything for a Mailbox Monday post but then I realized I was severely overlooking a TON of books! How does that happen? That happens when you buy and check out a stupid amount of books!

Last weekend while in Galena, IL I bought a couple books at an adorable bookstore called Main Street Books. I purchased Better to Wish by Ann M. Martin and a big Mad Libs books (not pictured) for my classroom. I just finished Better to Wish and LOVED it! I don't always get a chance to read the books in my classroom library, but I sure do try to read as much as I can so that I can fully endorse the books for the kids! There are two more books that are out in this series by Ann M. Martin and I cannot wait to get my hands on them!

Better to Wish was such an enjoyable read! I started it earlier in the week, while modeling a few skills that I wanted my students to work on, and then yesterday I picked it back and didn't put it back down until I was finished. It's a fast read, but something that I think both kids and adults would enjoy.

The book is about a girl, Abby who is growing up in the 1930s. Abby is the oldest child and we travel along with her as she experiences the ups and downs of The Great Depression, she experiences her first crushes on boys and then some tragedy in her life as well. Well, a lot of tragedy, actually. It's hard not to completely love her though and root for her.

I also received a huge lot of books from a friend of mine who has 4 children ranging from 1st grade to college aged and she had a lot of books to get rid of. She posted on Instagram that she needed to find a good home for many picture books and chapter books. I quickly responded and said I would love to take them off her hands!

I, of course, am always book shopping for my classroom but I am also thinking of when Bill and I have kids. Books are expensive, but I want my kids to be surrounded by them and always have access to books in the home. Among the books were lots of Little Gold books, Berenstein Bears books and many more. I am so excited to fill some more shelves in our little household library room with a shelf full of picture books. For children that do not exist yet.

Am I crazy? Nah. If I am, I don't care. I love books. :)

 These are the books that will live in our cozy little library room. 

These books are coming to school to live in my classroom! 

What have you found in your mailbox this week?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Social

Happy Sunday, friends! Are Sundays depressing to you? Are you someone that dreads going back to work on Monday? I don't necessarily dread it, because I do love what I do, but having days off to do with what I please is definitely what I prefer! I think we would all agree there ...

Today I'm participating in Sunday Social and I'm pretty sure it's my first time! Woo hoo! First timer here! :)

1. 5 Things you want us to know about you
  •  My name is Amber, and I don't really live on a farm or amongst the cornfields. I do live in Iowa thought and adore the Midwest. 
  • I have been told I have more of a "southern" personality though and have been told I'm "too nice" more than once or twice. 
  • I'm a 4th grade teacher and I love my career!
  • I am a major book junkie and am not safe in a bookstore. 
  • I love to work out, especially running and Zumba, but am currently in a big exercise slump! Look for a post about that another day ...
2. 5 Favorite things about blogging
  • Connecting with others and building relationships, FOR SURE. I have made so many lifelong friendships as a direct result of blogging, so it will always be dear to my heart. 
  • Ahem, the perks. Will I review a book if you send it to me, hell yes, I will! 
  • Learning. I learn about so much through others' posts. I learn about new authors, books, products to try. Love it. 
  • The artistic outlet. I've always been a writer, but it has definitely slowed down as I get older. I tend to forget how much I enjoy the act of journaling and writing out my thoughts, whether they are for the public, or just for me.   
  • The giveaways. I love to enter giveaways. Love, love, love it! It does get time-consuming, so I tend to go through phases with it! I do find it fun though. :)  
3. 5 Things you are doing before the year is over
  • Attending three weddings
  •  Visiting Minneapolis twice! Once for a wedding (next weekend!) and once for a book festival. Can't wait for both! 
  • Finally getting my name officially changed. I've been putting it off. Ugh. 
  • Updating our kitchen and replacing the tile. 
  • Hopefully having a small housewarming party to show our friends and family our new house!
4. 5 Favorite Fall Fashion Staples
  • Leggings, leggings, leggings! 
  • Quickly following leggings, that perfect pair of brown leather boots. 
  • Scarves
  • Jean jackets. Perfect for turning a more summery look into a fall look and keeping you warm!
  • Hoodies 
5. 5 Favorite beauty products
  • Covergirl Fresh Complexion Pocket Powder was my absolute favorite pressed powder, but I am pretty sure it has been discontinued! Sob! I got something that was in a similar casing, called Ready, Set, Gorgeous Pressed Powder (awful name, IMO) and it seems to pretty much the same formula. Hopefully, it is, I haven't been using it long and still have some of the old kind left, so I find myself digging for the old one a lot!
  • Covergirl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner. This eyeliner has been my go-to for MANY years. Probably since high school! Every time I try something new, I always end up going back to this kind. 
  • Bare Minerals Concealer in Well Rested. I use this as sort of a highlighter, mainly under my eyes. I really love it!
  • Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream. Not only does a jar of this last more than a year, but it does a great job of moisturizing my skin overnight. I use this the most when I need it during the harsh winter months, and only use it at night because its very thick.
  • Covergirl Bombshell Volume mascara. This mascara is amazing if you like thick, long dramatic lashes. Who doesn't, right?! I got this from Influenster and it might be my very favorite thing I have ever received from them because I use this daily! 
     Well, I clearly have a thing for Covergirl! I have not noticed that before! Ha!
What are some of your favorite beauty products? What product have you been using the longest? For me, it is definitely that eyeliner. I have probably gone through over 100 tubes in my lifetime. That's a lot of eyeliner!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Miles, Looks, Music and Books

Yay! I am back for another installment of MLMB for August! Two months in a row! I would say I am on a roll ... hehe :)

August was a great month, despite going back to work and I am feeling really good!

Ummm, close to none. I decided to give my foot a break and hopefully heal this plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis. This weekend I was on my feet a lot and noticed that I had very minimal heel pain, so my fingers are crossed that it is on the mend!

Well, school started, so many of my looks are back with work outfits! I found some really cute shoes that are made very well, and are not flimsy flats, like I am used to wearing. I'm working on breaking them in, but they are super cute and I really love them!

 I found this statement necklace at Kohl's and after a $10 Kohl's cash, I paid $3 for it. Steal!

 Here I am at Frank Lloyd Wright's estate, Taliesin in Spring Green, WI. If I can get away with it, I am always in running clothes. They are just so darn comfy! Plus, we did a lot of walking on this tour! Blog post coming soon ...

My first day of school look! The maxi skirt is NOT supposed to be high waisted, but I am so short that I could probably wear it as a dress. It was super comfy though. I wish it wasn't so unique to my style, otherwise I would try to get away with wearing it once a week ...

I'm in a Top 40 phase. I want upbeat and happy music! Nothing is really sticking out, except for ... All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor. I'm not ashamed! It has a great beat, a good message and you just can't help but sing along, riiiiight!!?

My reading has slowed down again now that school has started, but I am trying to make time for it! I know that I need that time for myself, so I really have to protect that time.

In August I finished 3 books:

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal 4/5 stars
Landline by Rainbow Rowell 3/5 stars
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman 4/5 stars

My favorite being Dollbaby by far! It is technically considered "southern lit" and it reminded me of The Help or Saving Cece Honeycutt. Such a great story with a heartwarming twist at the end that I was NOT expecting!

Overall, August has been great! I am looking forward to a fun September. We have two FUN weddings coming up that I am excited for in September and a weekend trip to Spencer. We are only in Des Moines one weekend, which means we will be busy, busy, busy, but that is how I like it! I am also really looking forward to getting to know my 28 new friends in my classroom better and establishing a solid routine and getting going on the fourth grade curriculum. Sometimes when I look at the curriculum as a whole it is just so daunting, but I know we will get through it and I will improve each year as a teacher!

Oh, and also in September I am excited about posting my wedding recap! I have started it and it is also quite a daunting task! I promise it will be coming, so check back!

Thanks for reading!

What is your miles, looks, music and books for August?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer Highlights

Tomorrow (8/15/14) my summer ends and I go back to work. Half of me is excited and the other half is silently begging for another week. This summer, however, was quite epic ...

Lets recap, shall we?

  • I wrapped up my first year of teaching by having to pack up EVERYTHING in my classroom and send it off to storage so my building can be remodeled and updated. Not a great start to my summer. No, sir. 
  • Unpacking my entire life and combining said life with another human's life was .... interesting? We now own 3 pizza cutters, 15 spatulas, two beds, 4 dressers ... you get my drift! We are still finding stuff that we do not need and are planning to either donate it all, or have an epic garage sale. My husband is a pack rat and sees use in everything, so we might just keep it all (please, God, no). 
  • Planning a wedding proved to be never ending. My to do list NEVER ended, and instead it just kept getting bigger because in today's age of Pinterest, there is always more more more that we can do that we feel we must, but actually do not need to do at all ... 
  • Getting married to a man that I met two years ago and quickly fell head over heels for was by far the highlight of my summer. I am beginning a new school year next week with a new name and I cannot wait to begin correcting everyone on how to pronounce my new last name. :) 
  • Riding RAGBRAI for the first time almost immediately after our wedding day. For those of you that are not from Iowa, RAGBRAI stands for the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (the Register is the Des Moines newspaper) and it is a huge bike ride from western Iowa to eastern Iowa. The idea is to start at the Missouri River and finish at the Mississippi River. Bill and rode for three days in the middle, missing out on dipping our tires in any rivers, but we had a fantastic time and I cannot wait to tackle the entire ride next year!

     What are some of the highlights from your summer??

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mailbox Monday

I have been on a bit of a book buying and borrowing spree these days ... with only 4 more days of summer left before I have to report back to work, there is no way I will finish them all. Somehow this does not stop me from taking them all home though ...

From the library, I have borrowed:

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal (reading now - so far it is starting out great!)

Be Fruitful by Victoria Maizes - this is a book about fertility and getting pregnant. We do not have plans for anytime soon, but I figure you can never be too prepared!

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller - a book about igniting the love of reading in children. This has come with amazing recommendations, so I am hoping I can at least skim through it this week!


Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman - I have watched the show (it is sooooo good!) and we decided to read the book for book club. The wait was too long at the library, so I purchased it from Target. I can't wait to read it!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman- the movie previews have been very intriguing lately for this story, so I just had to try and pick up the book before I see the movie! It's a YA book, and the type is pretty large, so it should be a fast read. Luckily, it was only $7 at Target.

The Romantics by Galt Niederhoffer - I loved the movie with Katie Holmes and when I spied this at Half Price Books and noticed the synopsis had some differences from the movie, I just had to pick it up.

The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans - total impulse buy. I have been craving some historical fiction and this one sounded pretty good.

This past week I also drove the 3 1/2 hours up to Minneapolis/St. Paul to catch a reading by Deborah Harkness, author of The Discovery of Witches! She just released the last book in the trilogy, and I am so excited to have all my books signed by her now!

Hearing her speak was a treat, and I am so glad I went! I am always blown away by how amazing authors are in person and how interesting they are. I never regret making the trip (I have yet to attend an event in Des Moines, because they rarely come here!)

I also spent some time shopping in the Cities and got some supplies for my classroom and new shoes for this school year!

My last full week of summer was very "bookish" but it was perfect! For my last four days for summer I have lots of plans ... I want to deep clean my car, paint the guest bathroom, organize our pantry (Bill is building me a new one out of a strange closet in our kitchen), organize Bill's closet, organize my closet (they are both a disaster) and get in some bike riding and book reading! Wish me luck ...

What books did you bring home this week? What are you reading right now?

Monday, August 4, 2014

July recap

Edit: this was supposed to go up on Friday, but for some reason it did not get published!

Hola, friends!

I cannot believe July is over. I don't want to believe it and wish I could refuse to accept it! July was a huge month for me, as most of you know because Bill and I got married! I promise (and I promise not to break my promise!) that I will get a wedding recap up. Promise, promise, promise!

Blogging is kind of like running. It is hard to get back to it after a long break, but once you do, you wonder why you ever took a break!


Anyway, I thought I'd do a little Music, Books, Miles and Looks recap of July, inspired by the lovely  Lisa and her monthly posts, which I always look forward to reading!


Well, I have been listening to Sara Bareilles nonstop because Bill and I danced to I Choose You for our first dance. I am so in love with the song. I owe a huge thank you to Becky for suggesting it. I had originally my heart set on This Kind of Love by Sister Hazel, but after Becky mentioned that I Choose You would be a wonderful wedding song, I listened to it a few times and fell almost immediately in love! After making Bill listen to it too, he agreed right away and liked it better than the Sister Hazel song. Love, love, love it!


I am also completely obsessed with The Piano Guys right now. We had the A Thousand Years playing during the wedding ceremony and every time I listen to it I get a lump in my throat. It is just so pretty! There is something about instrumentals that just gut me. I regret not having live music at the ceremony, but the way we did incorporate music was just fine.


My reading time in July was very minimal. In July I finished six books, which I know is not terrible at all, but one of them I had been reading for a couple months, so I shouldn't even count it, and another I was reading mostly in June, but finished the 2nd day into July. Anyway ... 

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand 
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (so good!)
Goodnight June by Sarah Jio (amazing, as usual!)
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (AMAZING. Everyone-should-read-this-book amazing)

Obviously it was a good month for reading despite it being one of the busiest months of my life! I take back what I said about reading being minimal! :)


Running in July was great! According to Runkeeper, I ran 32.1 miles - but that is not completely accurate as I know I had some days where I did not use Runkeeper. 

However, after this past week, I am not sure where I stand with running. After my long run on Saturday I had awful heel pain. I had been struggling with heel pain since I began training in March, but it wasn't awful. After a mile or two, it went away. This past Saturday it did not go away and the last half of my 12 mile run was painful. I decided to take a break and see a podiatrist. She diagnosed me with a combination of plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis. 


How did this happen, you ask? Well, a number of reasons. 
  • Worn out running shoes
  • Not doing dynamic stretches before a run
  • Not stretching properly after a run
  • Running shoes that are not best for my feet or how I run
It will be okay with a lot of stretching, rolling and new shoes. However, I do not not feel 100% confident about a full marathon. Considering my job requires me to be on my feet all day, I really do not want to mess with my feet. A half marathon, for sure, but a full might not ever be in my future. :( 


I've gotta go with my favorite look of the month ... 

Hopefully I get the professional pictures back soon and can post a wedding recap for you all full of pictures!

What was your Music, Books, Miles and Looks for July?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I have something big to tell you all. 

I have been surprisingly quiet about this. For many reasons.
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of not following through
  • Fear of not being able to do it
I have been running for almost 3 years now. During that time I have done three half marathons, two 20ks, a couple 10Ks, several 5Ks and one 10 miler.

MANY people have asked, "When are you doing a full marathon?" Usually I would just smile politely and say that I didn't think a full was ever in my future. Only during one of the half marathons did I feel good as I finished.

Well, never say never. Right?

I am training for a full marathon. And, I might be an idiot.

Or, I could just be a glutton for punishment ...

Last year I began running with See-Us Run Des Moines, which is a running group out of Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. The group pairs an adult mentor runner with a student and together you train for a full marathon. Last year I ran with the group, but I was adamant that it was not the year for a full. My first year of teaching is hard enough, I knew throwing a full marathon into the mix would not be a good idea. I was right.

Now, a year later .... What is my excuse? Oh, yeah, I don't have one!! For me, running a full marathon is something that I want to say I did. It is a bucket list thing. I want to be able to say I trained my body to do it, and I did it. I do not care about time at all, and if it takes me six hours, then oh well!


This is purely to say I did it. In October, if all goes well, my bucket list will look like: run a full marathon :)

What is on your bucket list that scares you? Do you have any marathon tips for me?