High Five for Friday

Hip hip hooray for Friday!  Here are my top 5:

1. We’re leaving for Chicago today!  Yay!  And this is not a work trip – it’s a 100% fun trip.  We’ll just be there from tonight until Tuesday morning, so it’s not a super long trip but I know it’s going to be a blast!  I can’t wait for the sight seeing, shopping, and food.

2. Lord willing, we will be house-less by the end of the day!  We overnighted the closing papers last night and the new owners should close today.  Having our house sold will be such a relief, so send up a prayer today that all goes through smoothly.  Then that means we get to start house-hunting here!  Double yay!

3. I checked another thing off my 2012 bucket list this week – making bread.  A friend from church brought me some starter  and I used it to make two loaves of Amish Friendship Bread…which were pretty good if I do say so myself!  I didn’t post a step-by-step this time, but in case you’re interested, this recipe was used for the starter and I used this recipe for the bread (minus the dates).  She also brought me some sourdough starter Wednesday night so when we get home from Chicago I’m going to tackle my first attempt at sourdough bread.

4. We’ve been enjoying some cookie monsters this week (warm chocolate chip cookie with ice cream and chocolate syrup)

5. In the fall I won a Kindle through a contest at Rugged Wearhouse…but it hadn’t been taken out of its box until this week (think grad school had anything to do with that?).  Now, I’m not 100% sold on this whole Kindle/iPad/Nook thing – I prefer the feel and smell of real (read: paper) books, plus I’m very visual so I like to see the cover.  However, lugging a laundry basket full of books on vacation (which is exactly what my parents did for their three avid readers) is a bit inconvenient.  So for traveling and simplicity, I am happy to have a Kindle.

Oh and just for kicks I have to share this pin with you:

I laughed and laughed when I saw this!  As a math nerd and a former math teacher, I love a good word problem…if I’m ever back in a math classroom again I’m definitely making this into a poster for my room!

Linking up with Lauren @ From My Grey Desk

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May block of the month

Another month, another two quilt blocks.  I am LOVING this block of the month class!  The only problem is that each month when we learn a new technique, I want to make a whole quilt just out of that type of block…and now I have several quilts floating around in my mind that I want to make!  Not to mention all the beautiful quilts I’ve found on Pinterest that are on my to-do list.

So this month we learned two versions of the log cabin block: the modern log cabin and the wonky log cabin.

This modern log cabin block is one of my least favorite blocks that we’ve learned.  I think it’s just boring.  Although, I think the main reason I don’t like it is because of how much white space there is; I think if it was more colorful it would be better.  Also, it’s supposed to be very improvisational and uneven, but it kind of bugs me and I wish I had made the squares more uniform.

Now this one I love!  I had so much fun with the wonky log cabin!  I adore all the color and it was just a really fun block to make because it didn’t require precision.  This was also a good way to use up almost all of the scraps of fabric that I’ve been saving from the previous months’ blocks.  I think this is just so so cute!

It’s hard to believe I’m already halfway through all my blocks (we only do 10 months of blocks then the last two months we learn how to bind and quilt).

I can’t wait for June to see what we learn next!

If you want to check out the other months: January, February, March, April

If you want to check out the class (which is free), go here

What I Wore Wednesday

Wednesday – Gatlinburg: Bible Study, visiting family in Knoxville, shopping

dress/made by me (like this one); sandals/Target

Thursday – workout

(I forgot to take a picture of my “real” outfit that I wore Thursday, but here are some of my new workout clothes that I bought and wore in Gatlinburg)

top/Champion outlet; shirts/Champion outlet

Friday – traveling back from Gatlinburg, graduation

dress/Gabriel Bros; tank/Gabriel Bros; shoes/Nine West

also on Friday I got to wear my cap, gown, and hood :)

Saturday – graduation party

dress/Loft outlet; cardi/Loft outlet; shoes/Nine West; necklace/NY&Co via Gabriel Bros

and then I forgot to take pictures/didn’t change out of my jammies some days…so that’s it for this week

Linking up to What I Wore Wednesday

book themed party {Works for Me Wednesday}

Way back when I started working on my master’s, I knew I was going to have a graduation party once I was finished.  And I knew it was going to be book themed…to go along with my master’s in library media education.  So after I graduated Friday night, we had my graduation party the next day at my parents.  Since we were in Gatlinburg until just a few hours before graduation, we really only had Friday night after graduation and Saturday morning to prepare; so it wasn’t anything elaborate, but I love how it turned out.

Obviously this theme works well for a graduation party for someone graduation with a library media degree, but it could also work for a birthday party or a baby shower (have the guests bring children’s books as their gifts).

Let’s start with the invitations.  I wanted the invitations to be in the form of an old library card:

(FYI, this is not the exact invite that I sent out…I changed some of the more personal info for the one I wanted to post on here…gotta watch out for those creepers, ya know?)

This is the template that I used for the library card.  It was a Word document so I just edited it so that it had my party info on it and used the fonts I liked.  Then I printed the cards onto white card stock and cut them out (four to a piece of card stock).

Here’s one that you could use if you have Photoshop (I don’t, so I couldn’t use it, but I thought it was cute)

Also, another oneanother one, and another one

I found the card pocket template here

I traced the template onto those yellow file folders, cut them out, folded them, and stamped them with a stamp that we have that says “From the *OUR NAME* Family Library”

Then I just put them in small, card-sized envelopes and mailed them off.

Once that was done, it was on to the party details.  I really wanted the food to go along with books but it also needed to be really simple since we didn’t have much time to spend cooking.  I searched online and asked for ideas from my Facebook friends (I got tons of super creative ones!).  This is what I came up with:

1. Green Eggs and Ham………………………..deviled eggs and ham sandwiches (the filling for the deviled eggs was supposed to be tinted green but I completely forgot to do that!)

2. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs……………………..meatballs

3. The Three Little Pigs…………………………………pigs in blankets

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar……………………fruit salad

5. Peter Rabbit………………………….veggies and dip (from Mr. MacGregor’s garden)

6a. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory………………………chocolate cupcakes

6b. James and the Gian Peach…………………….peach cobbler

The decorations were also very simple – mostly we just displayed some of my favorite books

1. basket of favorite books and books on the table (some Baby Sitter’s Club, Baby Sitter’s Little Sister, and The Silver Slippers)

2. favorite young adult books (Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games)

3. more favorites on the end table: Deputy Dan Gets His Man, Amelia Bedelia, and Junie B. Jones

4. centerpiece on the table: stack of Little House on the Prairie books, jar full of chunky/baby books, Beach Day, and my all time favorite book – Brown Bear, Brown Bear

we also invited the guests to write some of their favorite books on the chalkboard wall in the kitchen

So there you have it: very simple, quick, and easy, but also very fun.  I was pleased with how it turned out!

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday

P.S. We’re headed to Chicago this weekend (yay!).  Neither of us have been before…so feel free to leave suggestions of where to eat/what to do/where to go/things to visit (or places/things to avoid)

graduation!

I did it!  I graduated!  When I started the program last January I thought it would take forever; now I’m amazed at how fast it seemed to go and that I’m done.  Wow.

I didn’t walk at my undergraduate graduation but I for sure wanted to walk for my master’s, so here’s a recap:

getting all my garb on

(I just now noticed while looking at this picture that I still have a snowman decorate out…and it’s May.  Oops, no idea how that slipped by me)

Showing off my “wings”.  I always thought that master’s gowns just had those weird wing things, but then I found out that you’re actually supposed to put your hands all the way to the end of the closed sleeve, and the hole is for your elbow to bend!  I’ve never seen anyone wear it that way but it makes since due to where the seam is on the sleeve, but how weird is that?  How would you use your hands?

my hood – yellow is for library media (my concentration of study), red is for WKU (my college)

Daddy brought his super long zoom lens to graduation and was able to get some really close-up pictures!

walking in

waving at our families

lining up for our diplomas

getting my diploma – wanna know what it said….

yep, just a rolled up piece of paper telling us how to get our diplomas, how to change our address, and how to get copies of the pictures that were taken.  My real diploma will be mailed later.

the most supportive husband ever! – he definitely deserves some sort of award, because it took a lot of work on his part as well for me to go back to school

pretty flowers from Michael

And now I have my master’s!

Gatlinburg trip

Well, we’re home from Gatlinburg so now it’s time for a recap.  This was my favorite work trip that Michael has had (that I’ve gotten to go on) because 1. I loooovvveee Gatlinburg and 2. I actually got to enjoy this trip rather than having to do school work the whole time.

Sunday:

After church Sunday morning we packed up and hit the road.  We stopped in Cookeville to eat supper with my brother Brendan at the best Mexican restaurant ever, El Tap.  Right before we got to our hotel it started storming.  Our hotel, the Park Vista, was on the top of the hill and it seemed like we were right inside the storm.  I have never heard such loud thunder or seen such close lightening!  What a cool display of God’s awesome power.

the Park Vista

the rooms are all in a circle around the perimeter of the hotel with an open lobby in the middle (this is from the lobby looking up)

elevators – I thought it was really neat how they traveled kind of on the outside of the wall

view from the elevator looking at the rooms

view from the elevator looking down to the lobby

we didn’t use the pool while we were there, but I thought it was really neat – two twisty water slides and two levels!

there was also a display case with live birds in it; this little guy was so cute!

the view from our hotel balcony Monday morning – beautiful!

Monday:

We fully expected that the days would be very similar to all the other trainings Michael has been to in the past…he would be in training all day and I’d be on my own until he was finished.  However, his training was in our hotel and he frequently had breaks so I got to see him then, plus he usually got an hour and a half for lunch, so we got to go out to lunch everyday.  What fun!

Monday we went to the Best Italian Cafe & Pizzaria (that’s really the name!) for lunch.

big fat garlic rolls

Michael’s pizza

I always ask for extra lemon at restaurants – to some waiters that means one extra slice and to others that means a whole bowl of lemon slices…this waiter got it totally right, plus made a cute lemon arrangement!

While he was in class, I just lazed around the hotel room and blogged, read, watched, tv, etc.

Monday night after classes got out we drove to Sevierville to go to the Lodge Cast Iron store and Smokey Mountain Knife Works.  I didn’t think I would be excited about Knife Works at all, and I’ll admit that parts were boring, but there were some pretty cool things there!  Especially the section of kitchen stuff.

inside Smokey Mountain Knife Works

After we left Knifeworks we were getting quite hungry for supper and we wanted pancakes.  When you drive through Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge you realize that the big “things” in Gatlinburg are pancakes, old timey photos, and fudge.  However, the pancakes places that are so ubiquitous happen to only be open for breakfast and lunch…not supper!  After driving to several with no success we decided to scratch that and try something else.  We finally settled on Bubba Gump’s, which was delicious, just not what we planned.  And then we walked to Ben and Jerry’s – double yum!

Tuesday:

When Michael got his break for lunch we went to the Log Cabin Pancake House to get our pancake fix.  The wait was well worth it!

my butterscotch pancakes and Michael’s chocolate chip pancakes – incredible!

 After lunch Michael headed back to class and I headed out to the Tanger Outlet Mall…one of my favorite places to shop!  I racked up on summer clothes…expect to see lots of new pieces/outfits in my What I Wore Wednesday posts.

Tuesday night we went to The Alamo Steakhouse for supper.  We’d heard mixed reviews about The Alamo…some loved it, some thought it wasn’t so great.  We decided to see for ourselves, and our verdict was that we really liked it!

I had filet with asparagus and crab covered in hollandaise sauce (plus baked potato, salad, and rolls)…wow it was good!

these ducks were just hanging out outside The Alamo – not scared of us at all!

Wednesday:

As I’ve mentioned before, I attend a Bible study on Wednesday mornings.  It’s called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and there are groups that meet all over the world, studying the same material.  Since all the BSF classes study the same thing, I was able to find and attend a BSF class in Knoxville.  So Wednesday morning I drove to Knoxville and attended a BSF class there.  Then after Bible study I went out to lunch with my grandparents (my dad’s whole family lives in Knoxville) and then went to see my Aunt Rhonda and Uncle Tim for a while.  It was really great to get to see my family!

We went to McAlister’s for supper – Chris and Erin introduced us to McAlister’s last weekend in Lexington and we loved it so we were excited to find one in Pigeon Forge.  We did a little shopping at some bookstores to look for books I needed for my book-themed graduation party.  Ice cream sounded good to us, but all the places we went were closed!  Gatlinburg must cater to old people, because everything closes really early!  After lots of driving between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge (a la Monday night’s pancake hunt) we finally found a Marble Slab open and were able to get our ice cream fix.

Thursday: 

Thursday for lunch we went with some of the other people at Michael’s training back to Log Cabin for more pancakes.  Then I headed back out to the outlet mall for more shopping, but I must have already tapped out all the good stores because I didn’t find anything good.  I should have just stayed at the hotel and watched the Criminal Minds marathon that was on…

Thursday night we decided to stay in and eat supper in our room.  I had packed quite a bit of food for my lunches that wasn’t getting eaten since I ended up going out with Michael for lunch everyday.  So we decided to eat some of that food for our supper.  However, we did have to go get some ice cream after supper :).

Friday:

Michael just had one class Friday morning; while he was in class I had a quick workout, breakfast, shower, and packed up my stuff.  That way we were able to hit the road as soon as he was done and book it back home so I could get to my graduation!

We had a blast!  Even though Michael had training every day, everything was pretty slow-paced.  He got lots of breaks, I got to sleep in, we got to enjoy cable (very exciting for us non-tv owners…), read, visit family, shop, eat, and relax.  I love Gatlinburg and I’m already ready to go back!

High Five for Friday

I have mixed feelings about Friday this week…I’m sad that it’s Friday because that means it’s time to leave Gatlinburg, but I’m also excited that it’s Friday because that means it’s GRADUATION DAY!!!  Woo hoo!

So here are my 5 things this week:

1.  Tonight I graduate with my masters in library media education and I am so excited!!!  Tomorrow we’ll celebrate with family and friends (a book-themed graduation party, of course…)

2. Gatlinburg has been wonderful!  I’ll do a whole post about our trip later but the short version is that my week consisted of shopping + sleeping late + visiting family + eating lots of yummy food + watching Criminal Minds.  Fun stuff.

the view from our hotel room

3. In my 6+ years of voluntarily working out (i.e. not in P.E. or on an athletic team) I have never owned real workout clothes.  I’ve always just worked out in shorts from Walmart/Target and t-shirts that I already owned.  But this week I finally bought my first real (sweat wicking!) exercise clothes.  So exciting!  The Columbia outlet store had most of their stuff 40% off on top of the outlet prices, so I got some great stuff for pretty cheap.  Here’s one of my new “outfits”:

4.  I tried on this dress at Old Navy and cracked up because it looked like it came straight out of my Mom and mother-in-law’s closets from high school!  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen pictures of them wearing this same thing…so weird how fashion trends cycle back around.

sorry for the bad cell phone pic

5.  And here’s your Friday funny…this is a picture of me from Mom’s Day Out when I was 3 or 4.  A friend took a picture of the picture and posted it on Facebook – definitely made me smile.  It’s kinda blurry, but just in case you wondered what I looked like as a kiddo…

totally rocking the side ponytail…and what on earth is that white thing?

I should refer to this picture next time I consider bangs to remind myself that the stringy look does not work for me…

The girl in the blue above me is my friend Jenny Beth – how cute was she???

Linking up with Lauren at From My Grey Desk

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easy teacher gifts

After I finished my practicum, I wanted to give a gift to the ladies in the library who sacrificed their time and routine to help me.  The result wasn’t anything fancy, but it might be a good end of the year teacher gift idea so I thought I’d share.  This is what I came up with:

I took metal buckets (Target) and used my Cricut to cut out their names from vinyl.  Then I filled the buckets with some fun (and hopefully useful) items – reusable cups, Crystal Lite packets, snacks, and a notepads

Pinterest is full of teacher gift ideas – what’s your favorite?

What I Wore Wednesday

Wednesday – Bible study, work, church

shirt/Candie’s brand, but I don’t remember where I bought it (it’s old); skirt/TJ Maxx; shoes/Loft

Thursday – last day of work

dress/Loft outlet; shoes/TOMS via Journey’s

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday consisted of running errands Friday morning, driving to Lexington Friday night, baby shower Saturday, driving back from Lexington late Saturday night, church and potluck Sunday morning, leaving immediately after lunch for Gatlinburg, and then driving all the rest of the day to get there.  So…amidst all the traveling and business I forgot to take outfit pictures on those days.  Since I’m a little light on pictures this week, I thought I’d show you this:

I finished sewing another little shirt/skirt combo – I tried a shorter skirt this time and I like that I didn’t have to use as much fabric (since I didn’t need the extra space at the bottom to take a step) although I did have to do a hem, which was a first for me.  I was quite pleased with how the hem turned out, though, so I think I did pretty well for my first time.  I did accidentally cut a little hole in the skirt while I was trimming the bottom and the hole was too high up for me just to raise the hem since the skirt would have been way too short.  So I just sort of patched it – hopefully it isn’t noticeable because I adore this fabric and was so upset that I made a hole!

Anyway, I didn’t actually wear this out anywhere, but I finished it on Friday and wanted to show it off.

shirt/Rugged Wearhouse; skirt/made by me (like this one) and attached to the shirt; sandals/Target

Monday – Gatlinburg

dress/Rugged Wearhouse; tank/Old Navy; sandals/Target

Tuesday – Gatlinburg

dress/Old Navy; tank/Old Navy; cardi/Banana Republic outlet; sandals/Target

Linking up to What I Wore Wednesday

Stop the Sting {Works for Me Wednesday}

Summer is upon us and with summer comes bugs.  This summer will be especially bad since we had a super mild winter and the bugs probably didn’t get killed off.  This is a bit distressing to me because I seem to be very attractive to mosquitos.  All my life I’m the one who ends up with a body covered in bug bites when no one else around me gets anything.  And I have a lack of self control when it comes to bug bites – I must scratch them!  Usually to the point of bleeding so then I have nasty scabs in addition to all my bites.  Not the most attractive look.

So needless to say, I’ve tried all sorts of remedies.  They’ve ranged in effectiveness from not helping at all, to helping a little, to numbing the area but then the itch comes back with a vengeance.

I’m happy to report that a few years ago I finally found a product that actually works.  The itching stops very quickly after you put Stops the Sting on the bug bite and it may start itching again later, but for me it usually doesn’t start again for a day or so.  I got my first bug bite this year while at ladies’ retreat.  I used the Stop the Sting once right after my bite started itching and then had to use it once more about 5 days later on the same spot.

Stops the Sting

This is the best stuff I’ve ever used on my bug bites!  It’s also marketed to be used on jellyfish stings, bee stings, fire ant bites, and more, although I can’t personally vouch for it’s effectiveness on those (you can read testimonials here).  I imagine it would work well, though, considering how well it worked on my ultra-itchy bug bites!

I found this Stops the Sting at a local feed store (Dorris Milling for any of you Springfield people who want to buy some), but fortunately  even if you don’t live near Springfield you can still buy some here.

So if you or your kids routinely deal with bug bites and bee stings, I highly recommend this product!  Stops the Sting definitely works for me!

Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday

(P.S. I was not compensated in any way for this review – I’m just really happy to share my find!)

Oh and by the way, you can get the book I was featured in (That Works for Me!) for 50% off May 8 and May 9 only (in honor of Mother’s Day).  So if you want one, now is a good chance to grab a copy!  Just use the code “works4mom” and go here to purchase.  You can also head over to Kristen’s blog and get some great Mother’s Day coupons.