Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shop and Save (Big!)

I’m in San Antonio this week spending time with my fam. Who, ironically drove to Houston to go to the Baylor bowl game. Sorry, Baylor.
So I made plans today to have lunch with one of my best friends, Kristin. We went to high school and college together, but we never get to see each other because she lives 5 hours away! Sad smile
We decided to go to The Quarry and do some “window shopping” after lunch. We started at the SA staple, EZ’s.
Image Source (sorry it’s nighttime in the EZ’s stock photo…)
After some rosemary chicken with focaccia, mixed veggies, rice, and lots of conversation, we set off do do some serious window shopping! Since I’m trying to save up for my camera, my shopping perspective today was that any money I spent shopping was money I was taking away from my camera fund.
Our first stop was Charming Charlie. If you haven’t been, it’s an overwhelming amount of jewelry and accessories. As Kristin put it, it has some serious bling! I had several things in my hand as I walked around the store, but I only ended up buying this scarf. Can’t wait to rock it!

After Charming Charlie, we walked over to Whole Foods, where I wanted to spend a $20 gift card that has been burning a hole in my wallet for over a year. I haven’t wanted to spend it on regular old groceries, and today seemed like a good day to spend it on something fun!
After lots of looking around, I decided to get a Bodum milk frother, which I have been wanting for a while to make quick lattes in the morning. With the leftover money on the gift card, I bought a baby bottle of Champagne to enjoy solo at my parents house tonight, and some blood oranges. Yum!
We decided to stop in at a bakery we saw, where I got a chocolate chip macaroon, which was only okay. Again, no photo. Sorry.
Next we went in West Elm (drool) and I bought these paper birds. I have the perfect vase for them in my room- I can’t wait to see how they look!
They even have A’s on them! Open-mouthed smile
After a few more stops (this time, actually window shopping) including Whole Earth and Francesca’s, we went our separate ways. It was so good to spend some time with Kristin and catch up in person, instead of on the phone.
I decided to stop at Gap (I know, I have a problem…) and just pop my head in to see if they had anything that I haven’t seen in Dallas lately. I know they hardmarked a bunch of stuff when I was in there last week, and when I walked in I discovered everything that was hardmarked was an extra 50% off. Score! I got a great oversized sweater and a basic long sleeve white tee.
I decided to stop by Barnes and Noble on my way home and see if I could find this book Allie bought last week. I have a ton of B&N gift cards from students to use. I couldn’t find the book (sad day…) but I did decide to go into Old Navy next door. I have kind of crossed Old Navy off my list for the last few years because their clothes never seem to fit well and seem very poorly made, but it was next door, so I figured it couldn’t help to look. Somehow this shirt (which was also on sale!) jumped into my bag!
And then I noticed Bath and Body Works next store. (Does anybody else feel like Bath And Body Works is SO 7th grade?) I remembered I had ANOTHER gift card (I know, perks of being a teacher…) with only 3 or 4 dollars left on it. And since THEY were having a huge sale, I decided to get some Nectarine Mint soap, which my sister had had in her bathroom over Christmas and I loved the scent of.
Phew! That’s a lot of shopping! By this time it was 6:30 and I was ready for dinner. Luckily I was also right next to Zio’s, which we don’t have in Dallas and my friends and I ate at all the time in high school all the time. I picked up something to go, and while I waited for my food, I popped next door to look at Carter’s. Can I just say,  I LOVE having an excuse to look at baby clothes without having a baby.  Winking smile
And seriously, how could I not buy this.
And even better, it was on sale too!
After all that, I picked up my dinner and came home to enjoy it with my champagne (which I made into poinsettias, yum) and put on The Importance Of Being Earnest via Netflix instant view. Phew!
So I did a LOT of shopping, but I saved even more!

Charming Charlie    Cost $15         Spent $15
Whole Foods          Cost $22        Spent $2 (gift card!)
West Elm               Cost $6          Spent $2.50
Gap                        Cost $70        Spent $15 (this is why I love Gap)
Old Navy                 Cost $25        Spent $15
B&BW                    Cost $5          Spent $3 (gift card!)
Carter’s                   Cost $10        Spent $4

Total Cost :               $153  Total Spent:   $56.50
Sounds good to me!
There is some HEB strawberry cheesecake ice cream calling my name now….adios!
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Ode To Tea


We have a slight obsession with tea in our house.


(And coffee too, but that story’s for another day.)

Deborah is to blame for this one. I’ve always been a tea drinker, but being friends with her over the last 5 years has influenced my tea drinking. After she came back from living in France for 2 years, I remember it being July and her coming in from the 100+ degree Texas heat and asking if any of us wanted a cup of tea. She has this theory about hot tea making you cooler when you are hot. It still sounds crazy to me.

When cold weather comes around though, I drink tons of tea. My school is laid out like motel, so that the classrooms open up to the outdoors, so when I’m at work, I get cold really easily. The door is opening and closing all day with kids going to the bathroom, coming in from the office, us going to P.E., lunch, on and on. Yes, I realize I live in Texas- we’re lucky if we get 2 snows a year- and that there are places that it gets much colder than here. But there is something about Texas cold (maybe it’s the humidity?) that chills you to the bone. And that kind of cold can only be fixed from the inside out. So I keep a 2-minute-boil water kettle in my classroom and drink tea all day long.

But not just any tea.

I adore Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea.


Words cannot describe, my friends. I could try, but there are no words for how satisfying it is. During the winter I get to the point that I go through 5 travel mugs of it a day. (That would put me at going through the mondo box of 40 bags every 2 weeks or so. Yikes….just realized that…) It’s warm, slightly sweet, earthy, and…well, read their description….it’s better.



Deb and I have had many a conversation about how the cup makes the tea. The type of cup you drink out of is a big decision….it depends greatly on a number of factors. Big mugs like the one (which I got from Serendipity in New York this summer!) are for book reading, movies, or times when you want a lot of tea.


Mugs like the tall one above are for when you want to keep it hot for a really long time, so that you can make it, go do something, and have it still be hot when you come back. Or if you want to drink it slowly and have it stay warm for a long time.


Mugs like this one are for if you are in a rush, need to drink it fast, or if you want to drink it immediately. The wider mouth helps it cool faster. Deb can drink it when it’s fresh and boiling off the stove, but I always need to let it set for about 10 minutes and cool off a bit. Mugs like this are good because they allow the liquid to cool faster. If I’m wanting to drink right away and not have to wait as long for it to cool, this is the cup I usually go with.

One of the top phrases you hear in our house is “do you want some tea?” as one of us puts the kettle on. Followed a few minutes later by “what kind of cup do you want?” as we prep the kettle, mugs, tea, etc.

Whatever the cup, here are my guidelines for making the perfect cup of tea:

1. The water must boil. Don’t be tempted to zap it in the microwave or put it in the kettle and take it off before it boils. Taking the water all the way up to boil will allow the tea to steep more flavor and steep more quickly.

2. The bag goes in the cup first. The boiling water should be poured over the tea bag. Don’t dunk the tea bag into the cup of boiling water. The first think the water should hit is the bag, not the mug.

3. Add extras last. Any sugar, milk, or lemon should be added and stirred in after you fully steep the tea.

Tea is healthy (I usually count it as drinking water if it’s caffeine free), it’s inexpensive, and it delicious. I usually find if I drink some after dinner it is a good evening appetite “shut down” signal for me that keeps me from snacking before bed. What’s not to love?

I’m sure you’re enjoying lots of warm beverages in this cold weather. (I’ve had 4 today! Yikes.) What’s your favorite tea?

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

No Mind


When I started doing spin class, my favorite instructor mentioned something during a class about those moments when the workouts get really, really intense and how you just have to take your mind off of how hard it is and just do it. It immediately reminded me of this scene from The Last Samurai:

No Mind.

It’s weird because I haven’t seen that movie in years, but this has become a philosophy for me when it comes to working out. If I’ve been on the Stairmaster for a while and am ready to throw in the towel, it helps to take my mind off of things by distracting myself with something on Netflix on my phone. If I’m 45 minutes into spin class and start trying to justify lowering my intensity, it helps to just shut off my brain. (Hopefully not at the expense of my workout!)

As I’ve been thinking over the last week about starting 2011 on the right foot, I’ve been thinking more and more about applying this philosophy to more areas of my life. I am definitely more of a thinker that a feeler, and it becomes really easy for me to overthink things. I’m really good at talking myself out of stuff, and while you definitely don’t want to just haul off and do whatever you want, I know for me there are a lot of days that I talk myself out of doing something. Like I start trying to justify laying on the couch instead of going to the gym. Or I over-analyze (like all women do) every aspect of a conversation. Like Shin Koyamada says in the video, I get “too many mind.”

No mind. Don’t think, don’t anticipate, don’t force it. Just let go. You’ll be surprised how much the release makes it easy for you to get to the top of the hill in spin class, or allows you to stop worrying about the future. You’re stronger than you think, so stop doubting yourself and just let it happen. No mind.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas At Last

I pray that God blesses you and those you love this Christmas with peace, hope, and the knowledge of what we celebrate.

Merry Christmas,


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Roommate Gifts and One More Day!

Today has been relaxing and productive. With the nephew being born and trying to finish up Christmas shopping, today has really been the frist day that I’ve been able to relax. Ahhhh….

But first lets backtrack…. Deb and Sarah and I realized last night that we needed to do our Christmas because it may be our last night together before we go our separate ways for family Christmas. So we opened some wine, had dinner, started Fellowship of The Rings, and opened gifts. It was fun. We haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. (That’s probably not true…we laugh a lot all the time, but last night was especially fun.)

Present exchange was fun, and I wanted to show you what my roommates gave me- lots of fun stuff!

Sarah gave me this beautiful set of makeup brushes from Bare Essentials. Hooray! I’ve been needing new makeup brushes forever!

IMG_1618[1] IMG_1622[1]IMG_1620[1]

Deb gave me a stocking hanger (because both of us didn’t have one!) with a Christmas tree and an angel, two of my favorite Christmas symbols. She asked me the other day what my favorite Christmas symbol was- I didn’t even pick up that it was a gift hint I was giving her. I was thinking how great a question that was and had to think long and hard to come up with an answer. She stumped me!

She also gave me a jar of pumpkin butter- yum! My roommates have to live with my love of all things pumpkin, cinnamon spiced, or otherwise fall flavored, so she picked the perfect gift for me. I hadn’t been able to find any pumpkin butter anywhere this fall and had to settle for peach pecan butter (which is still really really good) that I found at Target. Now I have pumpkin butter!!! (Anybody want to guess what I had for breakfast this morning?)


And then we did stockings. I was most excited about this because we don’t do stockings in my family, so I’ve never had a stocking to stuff or open. It was fun shopping for little things I knew my roommates would love and wait to see what was in my stocking!


I don’t know if it’s because my roommates are sisters, or if I’m just really easy to shop for, but my stocking totally had a theme. Citrus!


Blood orange body wash, Lush bath bomb, Sephora pink grapefruit sorbet body scrub, blood orange chocolate rooibos tea, and clementines! Everything is orange and grapefruit! I love it!


Also, some SUPER cute fingerless gloves, a Christmas tree ornament, and a See’s chocolate sucker (yum!)

Don’t be fooled- I know I only have photos of the gifts, but even more than that, the time I got to spend laughing, celebrating, crying, eating, talking, and being with my roommates was the best part of all.

Tomorrow I’m headed to Ft. Worth for Christmas with my fam (and new nephew!), and I can’t wait to celebrate with them all!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I adore H&M. (Let's be honest, I think we all do.)And good news- they've FINALLY come to Dallas!

Today I sojourned to North Park Mall and went to the H&M preview store. The real store doesn't open until Fall of 2011, but in the mean time, they have a little taster of what's to come. 

Sorry the picture's a bit blurry. I was trying to take photos on my iPhone and be all cool and act like H&M is no big deal. ;)

Most of their stuff right now is more haute couture stuff that real people (or at least, I) don't actually wear, so I didn't end up buying anything, but I love the prospect of an H&M in Dallas. It's going to be a big two-story store, and there will be tons of discount fashions to buy. Hooray!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Mexican Scoop

One of my favorite easy meals is an idea of Kath's that she coined "Mexican Scoop."

It's so easy and delicious. I pour one can of drained black beans in a pot. Then I add cumin, a little tomato in one form or another (diced, rotel, or even a bit of tomato sauce), chipotle tobasco (yum), bell pepper, garlic and some salt. Basically you're simmering it to a really thick soup. It only takes about 5 minutes.

When it finishes, top it with fresh avocado, sour cream (or even better, plain Greek yogurt) and another sprinkle of salt.

Add a handful of tortilla chips and start scooping I always get a bag of Food Should Taste Good lime tortilla chips. Definitely kicks it up a notch. If you have regular chips, you may want to put a squeeze of lime on top.

It's so satisfying without being too filling and a great healthy alternative when you are craving Mexican food.

Made a great late lunch today!