Monday, April 22, 2013

My little secret

Every Sunday I devote myself to meal planning for the family. It's a serious endeavor, involving creating a menu, cleaning out the fridge, list making, and heading to the store.  It's hard work. 


This is what I had in my cart after about 45 minutes into my last Target visit. 

Yep. Alcohol, dog toys, and an US magazine.  

Hey, there are books to be browsed.
Shoes to try on

 and a dollar section to peruse.

And when that's all done, I'll fill my cart with all the fruits, veggies, milk, and protein that my family depends on.  

Do you grocery shop at Target? Do you *extend* your visits?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Spring is not my favorite season.  It's not the allergies. I just love the other seasons more. The freedom of Summer, the coziness of Winter (and Christmas!), and the fresh start of Fall, just overwhelm little 'ol Spring in my book.

There are some things I like about Spring, and in an effort to be positive (my bum foot is literally dragging me down) : ), here are some things I'm enjoying right now.  Some are Spring related, some not.

Giants baseball! This is a game we went to the day before surgery.  Husband has made a fan out of me! : )

Swim Team. This is our second year. You know how you feel so much more comfortable once you know the ropes? That's us this year. We also have more friends that have joined the club and/or team.  Swim team forces me to leave work early and sit outside in the sun and chat with other moms, all in the name of supporting sportiness.  

New wardrobe options - bring on the sandals and sleeveless!

My kinder students are at their all time best. This is where my hard work all year pays off and they are a group of empathetic, resourceful, and creative workers who can work independently and with stamina. It's a dream.

Revenge - nope, this one has nothing to do with Spring. But Ed and I are finally watching a season and a half worth of tivo'd episodes. It's goood

So there you have it. 5 things I'm enjoying right now, in my least favorite season: Spring.  What are you enjoying? What is your favorite season?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My ultra glam Spring Break

This week Miss P and I are on Spring Break.  Ed has his break a different week, so it is always a fun opportunity for Paige and I to do girly things.  I love themes, so one year our we had a 'friends and fitness,' week filled with different types of mom/daughter workouts (hikes, parent/child yoga) and playdates with our fave mom/kid duos. (We renamed our home 'Casa Fitness' for the occasion.) The next year was 'frugal fun.'  Ed was a fan of that week.

This week? Fun with Foot Surgery! : )  I've had a foot issue for awhile that an initial procedure in December did not clear up.  So I decided to take the plunge this week.  I had laser surgery on Tuesday and the humongo bandage on my left foot to prove it. 

Back to the 'fun' part.  Miss P and I had lots of fun on Monday prepping for our 'stay home in style' week. (I'm supposed to be off my feet and icing as much as possible.)  

We did a lot of browsing at Target and stocked up on all of our favorite foods, with easy meals in mind.

And we hit Barnes and Noble for the book and magazine above. There was actually quite a bit on the shelves that I was interested in (maybe for another post).  I love books like the one above.   

I also made sure Tivo was stocked with this:
Paige had her own list of must-haves, including Lego Friends, a Moshi Monster magazine and her fave Disney showsWe've been lucky enough to have some visits from friends and the week has flown by; I've barely delved into my stash.  (Partly because I've been uncharacteristically disciplined and have gotten a bunch of work done too.)

Did you have a Spring Break? How did you spend it?  What would be your must-haves for a week home of convalescing? 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Welcome to the blog party!

Ultimate Blog Party 2013
I love a party as much as the next person, especially one that I don't have to clean up after. So with that, I'm joining the Ultimate Blog Party Hop!

My blog is Life is What You Make it.  My title is inspired by the positive outlook I try to have about life.  I'm someone who likes to see the best in others and I'm a big fan of dreams and goals.

I have taught Kindergarten for 12 years and each day brings groans,laughter and sometimes mini-miracles as I navigate my 30 five and six year olds through reading, writing, math and play.

Each evening I go home to my bf husband of 13 years, E, my terrific 8 year old daughter, 'Miss P,' and our sweet 4 year old Pug, 'Cooper.'

After a  full day of teaching 30 little ones ('look at the first letter and make the sound,' 'sit down,' 'it's turn and talk, not turn and touch,') I love to indulge with HGTV, Real Housewives, books, chocolate, magazines, and of course, blogs. I also try to relieve stress by being goofy, laughing with my family, and occasionally running.

I'm hoping to meet some new blog friends!  Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 1, 2013

more peas

One relaxing morning in July of 2011, I was puttering around on my computer when I happened upon this blog.  I was charmed by the author's humor and sweet family.  I was also intrigued that her first cookbook was coming out that very day.  As soon as Barnes & Noble opened, I headed off to the bookstore to get my own copy.
A few months later I attended a FoodBuzz, foodblogger event, where Sarah Matheny herself was speaking at a roundtable.  Hey, some people are dying to catch their favorite baseball player up close, others would love to meet their most coveted clothing designer, I wanted to see my fav blogger!

Now, a year and a half later, cookbook #2 is out. I have it, and the personal stories are just as relatable and hilarious.  The recipes look even better.

I'm not a vegetarian, but there are plenty of pages I'm ready to stick a post-it note to.  Check it out!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

It's been a sporty weekend! 


While I sometimes envy big families, wish Paige had a sibling, wonder about having a son, or miss the sweetness of a baby, having an 8 year old daughter is pretty FABULOUS.

8 year olds are ready to keep up with you, and, best of all, still want to!  Early Saturday morning the two of us met with friends for hiking.  We had three moms and six kids in our gang. The kids were running ahead, crossing creeks and scaling hills off to the side of the trail.  After our adventure, P and I stopped for lunch, and then went to my classroom to tackle my to-do list. P mostly played, but she did help some.  That night all of us (Ed included) went to see The Croods.  

Today was church.  Paige's wish each week is for me to get all my errands done while she is at Sunday School so we can have more time together, but that never works.  This evening though we got another workout in -- a run on another favorite trail.  We really pushed it.  Paige has grown so much as a runner.  Not only can she keep up with me, she is faster.  Either says a lot about her, or not much about me. : ) 

It's fun having a mini partner-in-crime! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy Friday

I'm sitting here in my CLEAN house, courtesy of a service I talked Ed into....(Still trying to talk him into making this a regular thing.) Feet up and a glass of ice water.  (Now if it were a diet coke, we'd really have a party!)  Upstairs are the sounds of P and her playdate acting out dramas with their dolls.  Peace for about a half an hour.

Today in my dual role as mom/teacher I managed a late alarm, a student throwing his shoe over the fence, and an earthquake drill. After school, I surveyed all the work I had to do, and ended up grabbing Miss P and her friend for a play date.  We headed home and encountered the house cleaners who had come late. Yikes. I cannot believe that in a short while I have to head BACK to school for PTA movie night. All in the name of Miss P.   I must love that girl!

BTW - This is my 600th post!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tales from the trenches

(P and I at Mornings with Mom - my face always looks tired. Is there a make-up trick for that?)

Oh, how the mighty fall.  I'm always quite proud of the fact that I'm rarely sick.  Miss P (who has inherited my healthy genes) was sick once this winter, which was unusual, and E has been sick off and on for months.  Most of my class has been or is sick.  It hit me (unofficially) this weekend.  (I say unofficially as there is no temperature, the sign of bona fide illness, nor is there a constant hacking cough) just good 'ol fatigue and a sore throat.

I've spent a little time daydreaming...what if...
I was at a chill spa for the weekend (make it 3 days).  I'd take peaceful nature walks, soak in a spa tub, and do some restorative yoga.  My meals would all be made for me, and I'd pencil in a nap after thumbing through some crisp, glossy magazines.


I was at a beach getaway.  I'd sit by the water and feel the sun on my face. I'd read my book.  After my pedicure, I'd climb atop my fluffy white bed, order room service and watch a movie.  Ahhhh...


Yesterday I found myself across town with Miss P helping her to hawk the last few boxes of girl scout cookies at 8:00 a.m.  A few hours later I was in the dirt outside searching on my hands and knees with P helping her to find snails and worms for her science fair project.  After the creatures were located (no easy feat), I helped set up conditions for them to 'race.'  I numbed my pain by watching you-tube videos of Harlem Shake for a bit, and then helped prep lined paper and headings for her board.

This morning started off with mommy guilt. Paige greeted us* (*me and a sleeping Ed) with a cheerful "Happy St. Patrick's Day!" Repeated over and over.  She wanted to head downstairs 'as a family,' for the celebration she was sure was waiting.  Gulp.  No shamrock pancakes, gold coins, or note this year.  Sorry, the leprechauns were a bit off their game. Have we done something every year? Is this a big deal? She's 8 - can I be honest?  Fortunately, Ed had left out a few quarters by P's makeshift leprechaun house.  Something. Go team!  Next on my agenda, was signing up P for swim team with all of its accompanying parent jobs. Swim team is serious business, people.  Got a phone call from a friend wanting to make sure I didn't forget to log on and and attach my name to the coveted jobs.  (One of my gigs will be serving donuts on a Monday night from 4:30 - 8:30, that's a coveted job, btw).  After Sunday School chauffeuring it was time for science fair write-up. Fortunately, P did this well on her own, so I had time to share work woes with Ed (bad) and search pinterest for some ideas for an upcoming class project (good).

The day ended nicely with an early dinner at Islands restaurant. May not have been the tropical getaway I was dreaming about.  But as I numbed my pain with rich food, I thought, 'not too bad!'

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Ever since the time changed, Miss P and I have switched our thrice weekly runs to the evening.  For the first time, I am loving Daylight Savings!  Sure, I'm stiff and creaky at dark a.m.  But in the evening, when it is light until 7:00ish (doesn't hurt that it's been about 70 all week), it's party time!

You know who else appreciates the time change? Mr. Cooper, whose pudgy tush is getting more outside time. Go, Cooper, go!


Monday, March 11, 2013

playing with clothes

I love this look: boyfriend cardigan, tank top, fitted pants and boots

Source: via Jen on Pinterest

Watch out jeans, striped tee and ballet flats - there's a new sherrif in town!  Paige and I shopped for clothes this weekend and I got not one, not two, but 3 cardis (2 boyfriend, one with cropped sleeves).  Here's my first attempt today sporting my new look...

Still working on caputuring the 'essence,' of my look. :) Practice makes perfect! 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What I wore (wear?) wore?

Novice in the ha-ouse.  Looking at all the OOTD and other What I wore linkups, makes the arranging/posing/photographing look so easy.  Too borrow a circa 2000 phrase - not

Picture me, first doing my laundry so that my favorites are available, then trying to squeeze in time early in the a.m., and after dinner to change into these (and other outfits). See Paige standing on furniture so she can snap the photos at the right angles, while husband shakes head.

With that, I bring you my denim diva uniform.

jeans, neutral-y top, scarf, boots/flats  or

jeans, solid color top, statement necklace. 

Two more variations of the same formula.

Despite the effort. This was fun. I'll be trying it again. Fashion on, everyone. : )

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Day in the life - March 1

Hi there! I love "Day in the Life" posts. I'm a big reader of memoirs and a fan of reality TV.  Real life is fascinating to me.  So when Kelly's Korner decided to do a DITL link-up, I was game to take part. (I wasn't prepared in advance so I kind of fudged it with pictures.) Here was our Friday!!

6:40 a.m. - Groan at the late hour and hurry out of bed.  I worked late last night and I've been fighting something. Throw on workout clothes and zip downstairs to free Cooper from his kennel. Meanwhile Ed wakes Paige up to meet me downstairs for the last of our thrice weekly  workouts.

6:45 - 7:15 - Walk Cooper and run with Miss P. P tries to fib on distance. : )

7:15 - 7:55 -  Quickly get ready. Paige and I put Cooper in his 'room,' grab our stuff and head to the car en route to school.  Work for me teaching kindergarten; third grade for P.

7:55 - 8:10 - Light traffic - yay!

8:10 - 11:40 - Greet my 30 students (actually only 26 today as we've had rotating illness in room 2.)  One parent tells me (after the bell has rung) that her child shouldn't eat lunch today as it will conflict with his afternoon dentist appointment (she asks that he eat earlier in the classroom)?  I'm lucky to have a parent helper today and she gets to work stapling various projects. Her adorable younger child joins my class. 27 kids now. :)  Fire drill at 8:40. Oops forgot about that - oh well, at least it was a 'genuine' experience.  Pull reading groups and feel less organized than I'd like. Too much to do lately!

After reading, walk kids to dance class and help teacher manage kids as she teaches them the "Hukilau." I believe this is the dance that 'Baby's' big sister was practicing for in 'Dirty Dancing.'  Anyway. From there walk the kids to recess and distribute snack.  Immediately one of my students "D" collides with a student from another class.  She is not seriously hurt but hysterical.  I help her to connect with other student and talk about it, and then assign kids to sit with her at recess while I run to the bathroom.

Have buddy time with third graders and then math after recess, D is still crying (loudly) an hour after playground collision, and my usual strategies aren't working, so I call her mom to problem solve. Mom clearly feels bad but is unable to help.  I end up holding D's hand or having her sit on my lap while trying to teach math, which has gotten a bit muddled.  Take kiddos to lunch.

11:40 - 12:25 - Lunchtime. Heat up chicken tortilla soup from last night's dinner. Receive report that D won't eat lunch and has been taken to the nurse. No temp or other signs of illness.  Call mom with update. Another student, 'T' has partially wet his pants because he doesn't like using the school bathrooms (despite our 'project clean' campaign) : )  We check his backpack for clean clothes. When none can be found, I call his mom and leave her a message. T says he doesn't mind his partially wet pants and cheerfully tells a classmate his predicament

12:25 - 1:55 - Finish math and then coordinate play center time. It's a minimum day so teachers can work on report cards. Pull a few kids for math testing. T's mom shows up with new clothes. Afternoon is uneventful! Line kids up for dismissal. Fill in day care guy about D's day.  Take student C to office as babysitter hasn't shown up. Babysitter sends friend to pick up C, so principal asks me to help track down actual babysitter before releasing C, which I do.  In the midst of all this, P is dismissed and goes home with her bestie for a playdate.

1:55 - 2:15  - Take brief break to run to Safeway and buy some chocolate and a magazine.

2:15 - 4:15 - Force myself to focus on work (nibbling on chocolate) as I'm tired after a loong week.. Plan and prep for next week.  Take brief break to talk to colleagues about student progress and testing.  Finally pack up stuff. Will need to work on report cards this weekend!!

4:15 - 5:00 - Pick up Paige and head home.  Discuss science fair project. Walk Cooper.  Plop down on couch. Did I say it's been a long week?

5:00 - 6:30 - read and nap on couch while Paige watches Disney Channel movie.  Every few minutes Cooper comes over and nudges me (he's probably hungry.) I finally awaken enough to remind P to feed him. We've promised her McDonald's tonight because she wants a hex bug (sp). I usually cook a good dinner.

6:30 -8:30 - Ed brings home McD's. It's a little cold, bummer. We eat on the couch and channel surf.  There is a lot of mutual teasing, of the 'while you're up,' variety.

8:30 - We kick P's behind off the couch and send her lovingly to bed.  Ed and I chat and hang out. We stay up late (due to my nap earlier) and eventually walk Cooper and put him to bed.

There you have it! The good, the bad, and the ugly. What's your average Friday like?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

running buddy

I have a new fitness partner. She can run a mile in under 10 minutes, looks adorable in workout gear and entertains with plenty of chatter. yep - it's Miss P!  We have committed to running 3 times a week for lent, and I've snuck in a few solo runs.  We've also done some yoga and strength work.  Go us! Paige has been the beneficiary of my advice - 'starting the workout is the hardest part.'

Here are a few of my favorite running inspirations, a la pinterest:


Pinned Image

Monday, February 18, 2013

Belated Valentine's

Happy President's Day! The fam is on a week break now so I'm hoping to catch up a bit on the blog. 
We had a nice, uneventful Valentine's Day.  My students spoiled me, and I have their cards displayed in the dining room. It is so cheery!  After my heavily choreographed party, with stations and coordinating headbands, I raced over to Miss P's big kid party. I just got these two pics before my camera died.  The third grade party required a lot less work than my Kinder party.  As a helper parent, I volunteered to get a big trash bag, and stopped a boy from kicking others in the behind. :)

I treated myself to this book for Valentine's. Very cute, light and a fast read.  You can find it here

We are off to get our taxes done now. Cross your fingers for me!!  I'll be back with recipes, staycation plans, and my new fitness regime.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Valentine's Toffee

Over the holidays, Paige and I discovered making toffee.  Delicious, easy, and rhymes with coffee - what's not to love? : )

We made it for Christmas, but I think it would work out nicely for Valentine's Day. Here's how to do it.

Kids' Toffee
(recipe adapted from Scholastic Parent & Child)
You need:
28 honey graham cracker squares
1 cup light brown sugar
2 sticks of butter
1 12-oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini candy of your choice - we use crushed sugar cone pieces, you might do valentine colored sprinkles, or mini-pink/red m&m's

Preheat oven to 350
Line a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) with aluminum foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Spread honey graham crackers until pan is full to all sides

Combine brown sugar and butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil and remove from heat.

Pour brown sugar/butter mix over graham crackers and spread until evenly coated. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove and pour package of chocolate chips over whole pan.

As chocolate melts (this is cool to watch) use the back of spoon to spread chocolate to all sides (as Paige is doing above).

Sprinkle with candy of choice (as Paige is doing below!)


Allow toffee to cool for 1 to 2 hours.

Break into bite size pieces and serve.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sweet Potato Fries

I heart sweet potato fries. The good news - I just learned how easy they are to replicate at home. The bad news - I just learned how easy they are to replicate at home!

Even worse - I've learned how to make the yummy maple dipping sauce first introduced to me at the restaurant Yard House. Sounds weird, right? Don't knock it 'till you've tried it.

Recipe modified from The Carb Lovers Diet Cookbook

Sweet Potato Fries!

1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed and dried, cut into long, 1/2 thick wedges

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


preheat oven to 400.  Toss potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.  Roast 40 minutes tossing once.

Maple Mayo dipping sauce for Sweet Potato Fries (from

1/2 cup mayo
1/8 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/4 tablespoon brown sugar

Mix all ingredients together
Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes
Serve with fries!

I think this has Superbowl Snack written all over it!

Cookbook love

Did you know I love cookbooks?  Recently I picked up Cooking Light's Real Family Food

The author, Amanda Haas, has a philosophy 'one family, one meal.' Meaning as you can guess, everyone in the house is eating roughly the same thing. Another blog I enjoy, Dinner, a Love Story, has talked about that principle as well. In a nutshell - pick recipes you think everyone will like, offer only good (reasonably healthy) choices, require kids to only try a bit/eat one part, involve kids in food prep, blah, blah.

She also shares her meal planning strategy: 1) She flips through her recipes and decides what to make for the week (including breakfasts and lunches each day.) She says this only takes 20 minutes - sadly this often takes me longer. Or maybe it just feels longer? 2) She then makes her grocery list based on these recipes. Once she's made the full list, she 'shops' in her pantry and fridge and crosses off what she already has. 3) Finally, she shops. What I found interesting was that even back in 2008, when Amanda first started this plan, she gave herself a budget of $200 a week to feed her family of four. Now, we are only a family of three (not including Cooper), but I don't come close to spending that much. She does mention that she prefers shopping at Whole Foods, and likes to add a nice bottle of wine or two to the list, so perhaps that is why. 

Anyway, her planning strategy is exactly the same as mine. I don't know if I should be impressed with me, or underwhelmed with her?  : ) Do you follow this routine for meal planning? Needless to say, this strategy often feels like a lot of work to me, which is why every once in a while, I just go to the store and buy food, without a lot of forethought. While that seems to usually work out too, I do ultimately like to plan. 

I like that in the table of contents there is a mini-picture of each recipe. So far we've enjoyed the carmelized oninon and proscuitto pizza and the roasted fingerling fries. Yum!

My mom once said that she was always tempted to buy new lipstick - and that she felt just the right shade could be life changing. I feel that way about cookbooks. Are you compelled to collect something?