Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Shelf

So, March is Reading Month, right? Well, it's April and I'm still reading. I guess this post would have been better placed a month ago, but oh well! Now that I'm done with school/student teaching, I have SO much more time on my hands for reading, and I couldn't be more excited about it. My goal is to read 40 books this year, and I think I'm on track to meet my goal. 

I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and I adore it, but I'm still reading physical books, too. I try to read a blend of books so that I can be a good resource for my students, and so I can give good recommendations. That being said, I also stray outside of the Young Adult genre for myself :) 

This weekend I got a notification that I had 3 books waiting for me at the library! The nerd in me squealed a little bit knowing that the books I've been waiting for are now waiting for me. I'm excited to crack them open and devour them!
Scrawl by Mark Shulman 
 I saw this at the library of a school I was long-term subbing in. I'll be honest - the cover attracted me at first. But, I was hooked when I saw that the protagonist was a misunderstood boy, and the book was set up as his journal. I've been looking to expand my reading repertoire to include more boy-centered books so I have more knowledge of what to recommend to students. From the Amazon description:

"Tod Munn is a bully. He's tough, but times are even tougher. The wimps have stopped coughing up their lunch money. The administration is cracking down. Then to make things worse, Tod and his friends get busted doing something bad. Something really bad.
Lucky Tod must spend his daily detention in a hot, empty room with Mrs. Woodrow, a no-nonsense guidance counselor. He doesn't know why he's there, but she does. Tod's punishment: to scrawl his story in a beat-up notebook. He can be painfully funny and he can be brutally honest. But can Mrs. Woodrow help Tod stop playing the bad guy before he actually turns into one . . . for real?
Read Tod's notebook for yourself."

Sounds like an interesting premise and character!

11/22/63 by Stephen King (my first King novel!)
I've been waiting to read this book since before it came out in November. I've never read a King novel because I'm not a fan of scary things (my imagination goes wild and I don't sleep!), but this one seems like a little more time-travel than thriller. Here's part of the description from Amazon:

"On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—a thousand page tour de force. 

Ahhhh the description has had me hooked for months!

Dead Dancing Women by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
I stumbled upon this book as I was looking for a download for my Kindle. Surprisingly, I could get this faster if I requested the physical book than if I requested the electronic book. What intrigued me about this book, and actually the entire series, is that it's set in Northern Michigan. I adore that area of my state, so I think it will be fun to read a book set there. Also, this is a mystery series. I've not read many mysteries, but I like that this is a series that I can continue to read if I like it. Here's what the Amazon description says:

"Escaping the city, and her coed-chasing ex-husband, part-time journalist and full-time failed mystery writer Emily Kincaid has moved into a cozy cabin nestled in the woods of northern Michigan. Emily spends her days writing for the local newspaper and crafting her latest forgettable novel. Then one morning her quiet life turns grisly when a severed head tumbles out of her garbage can.

Between hosting her ex and his female "assistant," reluctantly raising a rambunctious new puppy, and forming an uneasy alliance with the fractious Deputy Dolly, can Emily put an end to the killings — and somehow preserve her sanity?"

Sounds interesting, no?

What are you reading, or have you read, lately?

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Grand Entrance!

Once My girls walked in, it was time for my grand entrance! I walked down the aisle, with my dad, to an arrangement of Defying Gravity played by my cousin Ali on her flute, and my cousin Karlee on her ukulele. I realize it's not a very traditional wedding song, but the melody is beautiful. And, not to sound corny, but at that moment I really felt like I was "defying gravity." I was on top of the world!

The church doors opened and there I was! I love how my flowers popped against my dress... even if I am carrying them a bit high. Oh well!

The church we were married in is absolutely beautiful. It's old, and ornate but understated. It helped that they had recently changed their gaudy bright orange carpet to something in my wedding palette, too!

I don't remember much, but I was SO hot! I was really excited, too. 

Obligatory shot of the groom :)

How beautiful are those ceiling things! I have no idea what they're called, but I love them. It's hard to see in this shot, but the pastor asked our parents and grandparents to stand up around us while he prayed. Our pastor really sucked and messed up a lot, which I'll talk about later, but I liked this part of our ceremony (even if it lasted wayyyy longer than it was supposed to). 

Here we go!
What do you remember most about walking up the aisle? Have you heard of any other non-traditional wedding songs?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Outlet Sales are my Favorite Way to Shop!

It's that time of year, folks! The Vera Bradley Outlet Sale 2012 is in full swing starting today, and I'm one of the luckies who has a ticket for the first session.  This is my third time going with the same fun group of ladies (minus my friend Jenna, who can't make it because of the busy accounting season), with the addition of my sister! I'm really looking forward to scoring some great deals on some pretty, pretty things.

Part of the fun (if, like me, you like surprises), is that you won't know what patterns or styles are available until the doors open! Last year I was thrilled to see my favorite pattern, Baroque, in high quantities all around. I even scored a fabric bulletin board that will make an awesome piece of functional art once our office is complete.

Another part of the fun is that we leave our house at 2:00 AM so we can be in Fort Wayne by the time the doors open. It's about a 3 hour drive, but with all of the socializing, even at such an early hour, it goes by quickly! By the time you read this, I'll probably be done shopping and maybe even on my way home!

Here are a few things on my wish list (usually I'm not too picky with the patterns, so just about anything cute will do!):

Beach Towels! With the possibility of having a pool in the near future, pretty towels are a must. I picked up beach towels last year for my bridesmaids, and they were a hit! The quality is great - nice and thick and plush. This pattern is called Very Berry Paisley, and I have a feeling that since it's an older pattern, I'll be seeing a lot of it today!

Fabric Napkins! Now, I need to be a little more selective with the pattern so  they'll match my dishes, but I figured that even if I don't use them as actual napkins, sewing one together as a pillow cover or framing it as art could be fun, too! This pattern is Floral Nightingale, and I think it's adorable. 

What better way to brighten up a rainy day than with a fun umbrella! This  pattern is Happy Snails, and it's quickly becoming a favorite of mine. 

My poor Kindle Fire doesn't have a case, but I'm hoping that ends tomorrow.  This pattern is Baroque, and I have a lot of stuff in  it already. Will I be adding to that collection today? Possibly!

This XL Duffel Bag is the answer to all of my packing problems. It's HUGE , and the soft sides make it a dream carry-on when traveling. This pattern is Safari Sunset.
 The next two patterns were just released a few weeks ago, so they probably won't be at the sale today, but I've got my eye on them. Seriously, how fun are they!? I'm loving the first one with it's lime green and turquoise palette. I'm thinking it will be making an appearance at my home sometime soon.
Lime's Up

Doodle Daisy
Are you a Vera Bradley lover? What's your favorite pattern, past or present?

(all images courtesy of Vera Bradley)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Southwest Pasta Salad

Hey everyone! I hope you had a great Easter weekend. I felt like I was super busy, but it was a lot of fun.

I need to learn to take my camera with me more often so I can snap blog pics. I've got a really nice camera now, courtesy of my in-laws, and I'm scared that I'll break it if I take it anywhere! I would have loved to take some pictures of our Easter celebrations, but I didn't. Sorry! It didn't help that I'm fighting a cold right now and just didn't feel like doing anything on Easter Sunday. Luckily, I had a quick and easy recipe to bring to our dinners. This Southwest Pasta Salad has quickly become a favorite because it can be made a night ahead, or at least prepped a night (or more!) ahead of time.

I started by using this recipe from, (I was strapped for something to bring to a potluck, and stumbled upon it before the days of Pinterest) and noted my changes/suggestions in bold print.

Not my picture - but this is about how mine looked. This is from the allrecipes site.


  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package rotini pasta
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil - I use olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice - I use about a half cup because I like tangy dressings
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin - I love cumin so I tend to add a little more
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups whole kernel corn - I tend to use the low sodium canned corn when fresh isn't in season. Frozen would probably work nicely, too.
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper - Red, Orange, or Yellow (or all three) Bell Peppers can be used, too. They make it look so nice and bright!
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper - I add in red onion in addition to the peppers. I'm an onion girl!
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves - Green onions would be good, too, if you forego the red onion.
  • 1 cup chopped roma (plum) tomatoes - Rotel diced tomatoes are a great addition, too. I like the heat from the juice.


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. In a large bowl combine oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt and garlic. Stir in pasta and set aside to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. - I've found that if you eyeball dressings (like I do) it's best to slowly drizzle the dressing over the pasta and taste it to make sure it's not overdressed.
  3. Stir in corn, beans, green pepper, red pepper and 1/2 of the cilantro leaves. Spoon onto a platter and garnish with tomatoes and remaining cilantro. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Did you make any delicious dishes over the weekend? What's your go-to recipe when you want something easy yet impressive to make?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Party Walks

Oh, yeah... remember how I got married in August? How about I recap some more of what happened. I got a little burned out from wedding stuff - I'm sure some of you brides can relate - so I stopped recapping. But, now that it's been a while since we walked down the aisle, it's kind of fun to look back and relive the day!

While my girls and Josh's guys walked in the processional, my cousins Karlee and Ali played Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls on their ukulele and flute, respectively. It was an awesome sounding song from what I could tell from my post in the back of the church!

My stepsister Heather and Josh's friend Josh

My sister-in-law (Josh's sister) Ashley (yes, we have the same first and last name now),  and Josh's friend Eric

My friend from throughout school, Ashley, and Josh's cousin, Tom

My friend from throughout school, Jenna, and Josh's friend from high school, Brandon.

My friend from throughout school (and wayyyy before that), Erin, and Josh's friend/co-worker, Gary 

My sister, Lindsey, and Josh's best man, Paul

The cutest flower girl and ring bearers ever - Quentin, Grace, and Carter. 
The boys are holding  plates that were custom made by Etsy seller LoveArtWorks. One is a peacock feather with our names and wedding date, and another is a custom painting of Diesel. I liked that there was a part of him with us on our day, too.  As I look at the picture, it cracks me up to see the ring bearers' boutonnaires. They were pretty mangled by the time we got to the end of the ceremony!

How did you (or will you) choose who stands beside you on your wedding day? Are you/will you be incorporating a part of someone/something who can't be with you?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Down on the Farm

It's Spring Break around these parts! And even though I'm working for a few days this week, my friend Ashley and her son Carter (one of the ring bearers in my wedding) have the whole week to themselves. Since I haven't seen them in such a long time, we decided to meet up yesterday at Josh's family's farm and spend some time with the cows.

Carter had a blast looking at the cows and riding around on the Ranger with Diesel. Diesel loved it, too. He ran around like he was a little kid with a new playmate. Of course, the very first thing we saw when we drove into the barn, was a bull and a cow participating in mating season rituals. Ugh. I've been to the farm dozens of times over the last few years, but never had I seen that before. It figures that the first time I drive up with a 5 year old it would be the first thing he sees! Oh well - it's a part of life, right?

We told him that the cows were just playing and having fun, so for the rest of the time he kept saying, "Which cow is different?" Then he would point to the big bull and say, "That one! Because he likes to have fun!" It was pretty comical!

He danced in the aisles and attempted to feed the cows, who just backed away in fear. I don't think they're used to  small humans running around with them :)
Diesel and Carter rode around in the Ranger together. Diesel was in 7th heaven.  Ranger rides are his favorite thing!

I tried to get him to pose for a picture with the cows, but there was so much going on that it was hard to get him to look at the camera!
We also took a trip to the sand pit. The farm has a giant hill of sand which they haul into the barns for the cows to sleep on. The sand pit is a source of fun for just about everyone, dogs included!

Diesel and Carter rand up and down the sides of the hill. Diesel was thoroughly enjoying himself, and I think Carter was, too.
Carter would climb to the very top and exclaim, "I'm the king of the castle!" Then he would look up into the sky to see how close he was to touching it. It was pretty cute :)
King of the Castle!

 We had a great time hanging out around the farm. We also took a trip to my aunt's house to see her chickens, goats, bunny, and duck. Carter was having a blast until he backed up into the duck's water bucket, spilling it all over and plopping down onto the wet cement. It was hilarious for us, but not so much for him. After a change of pants, Carter and Ashley headed home for the day.

Are you on Spring Break? What plans have you made so far? Do you have any exciting farm stories from your past?

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Blog Design

I don't know why, but I felt like my blog needed a facelift. I really liked my old design, but I didn't feel like it really was "me."

About $3.00 and a few hours later, my new blog design was born! And can I just say, Blogger has become SO much easier for editing and personalizing blogs! I'm glad they've listened to people who want to break out of the boring basic templates.

Peacock feathers are sort of a trend now (or maybe a trend that's passed?), but I love the colors and graphic elements of them. I incorporated them into my wedding, so it seemed natural that they be incorporated into a blog about my married life. I picked up a this pack of digital scrapbook paper from VN Digital Art on Etsy for a well-worth-it $3.00. (She's got other great design, too, so go check 'em out!)

How fab are these designs! Love them!

Then, I just messed around in Photoshop to create a background and header I liked. I wanted to incorporate pictures of our wedding and our life, so if you take a look, you'll see: (clockwise from the bottom left) one of my favorite ring pictures from the wedding, grapes from a vineyard in Traverse City, MI where Josh and I spent some time after our wedding, wedding shoes!, our baby Diesel, my fabulous wedding bouquet, and a picture of Josh and me. I love it :)

How did you come up with your blog design? Are you a tried and true template person, or did you incorporate a little bit of yourself? Or both?