reading: the makeup book tag

December 30, 2016


I love makeup and I love books, so I was really excited to see that a makeup book tag has been floating around the internet that combines both. The tag asks for people to pick their favorite books in categories that match with the purpose of different types of makeup. The original video seems to have disappeared, but I found out about this tag from this lovely video created by YouTubers Ariel Bissett and Estée Lalonde. My picks include some books that I read a long time ago, and some that I have finished recently. Here we go!

PRIMER – PICK A BOOK THAT LEFT A LASTING IMPRESSION
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane's experience of coming into her own, and learning how to be strong despite hardships, is beautiful. I read this as a shy high schooler, and I was instantly entangled by Jane and everything that she went through. 

FOUNDATION – PICK YOUR FAVORITE FIRST BOOK IN A SERIES
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith. I love this book so much. It blends my love for J. K Rowling, who wrote this book under a pen name, my love for British culture, and my love of mysteries and detective thrillers. It's a great first book as it introduces characters that I came to care for later, and was a riveting read.

CONCEALER – PICK A CHARACTER YOU WISH YOU COULD GET RID OF
Julia Greenfield from Losing It by Emma Rathbone. Recently, I finished this book for my upcoming book club. I was unimpressed by the whiny and self involved heroine, Julia, who was overly concerned with her virginity, and never really learned anything during the summer that she stayed with her great aunt who was also a virgin. Because Julia didn't really learn anything about herself or caring for others I, as the reader, didn't learn anything new either.

POWDER – PICK YOUR FAVORITE LAST BOOK IN A SERIES
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling. Let me count the ways that I love this book as the ending to my favorite book series. This book has such a different feel from the rest of the Harry Potter books because the trio are on the run, rather than at school, and this change in pace was welcomed at the end of the series for me. The protagonists have come of age, and so the issues they deal with are much more serious. I loved the pressure of finding the horcruxes, and the devastating quality of the final battle. This book taught me so much about friendship, courage, and even death.

EYESHADOW – PICK A BOOK WITH YOUR FAVORITE COLOR ON THE COVER
Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This book's cover features a brown boot with bright red laces on a stark white background with a spindly black serif font title. I love those colors, and they make up the bulk of my wardrobe. The only color missing is a blush pink. This book was a wonderful read that I really enjoyed.

EYEBROWS – Pick A BOOK YOU THINK EVERYONE SHOULD READ
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I felt challenged by this book, and appreciated that discomfort as a call to do more about racial injustice. I think that everyone should read it.

EYELINER – PICK A DARK AND MYSTERIOUS BOOK
The Bat by Jo Nesbø. I also recently finished this book, which is the first book in a Norwegian detective series. This book is set in Australia upon the murder of a young Norwegian murder, and it wends its way through bars and the homes of drug dealers, through boxing rings and theaters. After reading only female authored mysteries this summer, and Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø previously, I found The Bat to be a let down. Maybe this is because the character is a damaged man who damages those around him rather than a kick ass woman, or because this book isn't as inventive as the previous book I had read by the author. Still a decent read, though.

MASCARA – PICK A LONG BOOK
Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Ah, I love this one. Moby Dick was my favorite book that I read in college. The deep and multifaceted symbolism of the whale drew me in, as did the huge undertaking of reading this gigantic book. My favorite chapter is called the blanket, and talks about how a whale's skin allows it to remain the same temperature internally despite external changes. Here is my favorite quote from that chapter: "It does seem to me, that herein we see the rare virtue of a strong individual vitality, and the rare virtue of thick walls, and the rare virtue of interior spaciousness. Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the Equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole. Like the great dome of St. Peter’s, and like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own."

LIPSTICK – PICK YOUR FAVORITE BOOK KISS
Persuasion by Jane Austen. I don't even remember if there is a kiss in this book, but this is my favorite romance. The slow burn of the connection between two characters who had been in love and fell apart, and are pushed together again can't be beat. Something about the maturity and pleasure of their renewed love, despite everything they went through, makes this my favorite romance over even Pride and Prejudice. 

What is a book that left a lasting impression on you?

three favorites: december 18, 2016

December 18, 2016


1. Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm. This is the best lip balm I have ever tried, and I have tried a lot. The balm is a velvety smooth texture, and smells of honey and citrus. It glides onto my lips, and leaves them smooth and nourished for hours. This is great to use at nighttime, or as a thin layer almost wiped off under lipstick. This lip balm saves my lips every winter, and can be found at Target.

2. Clover Takumi bamboo knitting needles and the lovely Purl Soho knitting patterns. I am getting back into knitting, and am halfway done with a chunky apricot colored pom pom topped beanie hat (pattern here), and have just started a sliver of a large ombre seed stitched wrap (pattern here). It's nice to create something, and knitting is such a cozy activity. I like bamboo needles best because they are warm and slightly grippy. I am also loving the Purl Soho patterns. Their photography is gorgeous, and their patterns are so simple but beautiful. The act is knitting is helping me to feel calmer and more at peace, which I will admit I desperately need.

3. Listening to The Bat by Jo Nesbø on Audible. I got halfway through this story on ebook, but then my copy was returned to the electronic cloud that I borrowed it from through my local library. I bit the bullet, and downloaded The Bat with Audible, and now I am working my way through the story of Harry Hole, a Norwegian detective trying to solve the murder of a Norwegian woman in Australia. I'm still trying to figure out if I like Harry or not. This series is wildly popular, and I am waiting to see why. But, it's fun to listen to while knitting and fills my apparent need for the constant intake of murder mysteries.

three favorites: december 4, 2016

December 5, 2016


1. The Sonia Kashuk Radiant Boost Restorative Oil. This is awesome. The packaging is gorgeous, as the bottle is topped with a gold button that pops up with a twist, picks up the perfect amount of oil in a dropper, and sleekly recedes when you close the bottle. So so nice. This oil smells like Early Gray tea, doesn't clog my pores, and adds a protective layer of moisture to my skin at night. I am a big fan of including oils in my skin care. Even though I have oily skin, the oils help my skin feel more plump and less greasy. If you are feeling especially dry this winter, I would recommend adding an oil to your night time skin care routine.

2. Eggnog. There's just something about sitting down with a cup of creamy and spiced eggnog, with the Christmas tree lights turned on. It's helping with the winter feels.

3. This cover of It's Cold Outside by Lydia Liza. My husband's friend from high school created a cover of It's Cold Outside that focuses on the importance of consent. I love it, especially considering how creepy the original is.

teaching: how to survive cold season

December 2, 2016


1. Make sure your room is stocked with cough drops, tissue, hand sanitizer, and lotion.
I walked around my classroom this week and offered one cough drop to "fake coughers" who wanted something almost like candy but a little grosser, and gave a handful to each freshmen that sounded like they were coughing up a lung. Students also are asking for a tissue left and right at a time when my school is saving money, and not buying tissues for classrooms anymore. It's worth buying a set of Kleenex boxes to get through the cold season, though, for me and the students.

2. Good skincare is a must.
I find that teaching, talking all day, and being blown on by my school's weird air system can really dry out my skin as the weather gets colder. I like to include an extra oil in my nighttime routine after my serum, and include an extra layer of moisture in the morning before my moisturizer, like a spray or an extra daytime serum. For oils, I like the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Oil or the Sonia Kashuk oil, and for moisture I like the Pixi Milky Mist. I also slather on the Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm to make sure my lips don't die. 

3. Invest in a good pair of snow/work boots. 
Buy a pair of boots that you can tromp through snow in and change out of when you get to work. I love my Hunters for this, and wear warm wool socks underneath. I feel chic coming into work in them. Plus, if I forget a change of shoes, I can wear them during work without feeling like I am an arctic scientist weathering a storm inside like I would if I were wearing true snow boots. 

4. Up your vitamin game.
For now, my main vitamin choice is vitamin D. It made a difference in my emotional well being last winter, even if it was just a placebo effect, so I will try to continue to consistently take the supplement this winter. I need it, especially considering what 2016 has been like.

Best of luck surviving this cold season, in both senses of the word! Do you have any tips on handling the cold or colds?

styling: sparkly socks and cable knits

November 30, 2016



Ellie glasses from EyeBuyDirect / thrifted GAP sweater (similar here) / JCrew Maddie pants / Swedish Hasbeens Lotta Clog / metallic socks (similar here)  / Apple Watch 38mm Sport Edition


When I bought these clogs on clearance this summer I was already scheming about the socks that I could wear with them. When I was traveling in Japan that was something I noticed, all of the fun socks, and they can look so chic. So, I went for it today. Also, my love for this sweater just won't die. 

Happy almost December. ♡


three favorites: november 27, 2016

November 27, 2016


1. Peace Rose Oil Complex Sensitive Skin Mask. This is a lovely clay mask that isn't drying. I put it on when I need to relax. I take off my makeup, and smooth a thin layer of the mask on. It is tingly, and smells so beautiful. My skin feels renewed when I take this off.

2. Yogi Egyptian Mint Tea. Ooooh, this tea is so delicious. I bought this a while ago when I wasn't feeling well, and it is so soothing and warming and sweet and just all around good. If you are looking for a sweeter, spicer tea to keep you warm as the weather cools, this one is it.

3. Moonlight. I went to go see Moonlight with a dear friend while our husbands were playing Magic the Gathering. (Yes, I married a nerd.) We made the right choice because this was such an amazing film. It tells the story of Chiron, a boy growing into a man in Miami, who is dealing with his mother's addictions and his own attractions to men. The film was beautifully and masterfully shot, with many quiet moments to reflect Chiron's quiet and removed sensibilities, and many dizzying shots that communicated the turmoil of growing up and struggling to survive and be loved. I am still thinking about this striking depiction of an African American man's growth and life. You have to go see it.

styling: light pink and lace up ankle boots

November 23, 2016

Ellie glasses from EyeBuyDirect / thrifted LOFT blouse / LOFT cardigan / JCrew Martie pants / Target lace up heels / Apple Watch 38mm Sport Edition


I absolutely love to blend newer purchases with thrifted items from my closet. I also often feel a little thrill when I blend an item that I bought new from a brand, and a thrifted item from that brand. I'm thinking that I want to challenge myself to only buying thrift and vintage for a while... Anyone done that before?


three favorites: november 20, 2016

November 20, 2016


1.  Maybelline "The Buffs" lipstick in Maple Kiss. This lipstick is lightly moisturizing, with a satin finish. I am trying to switch to more moisturizing formulas across the board as the snow starts to fly here in Minnesota. There are a bunch of colors in this collection, including some sheer brown shades that I want to check out. Maple kiss is a sheer brownish red shade.

2. Tights. They mean that I don't have to shave my legs, can stay warm, and can keep wearing skirts and dresses even when it is way too cold out.

3. Sia's cover of "Satisfied" for the Hamilton Mixtape is giving me life. My friends were talking about how one of the ways they are surviving the election results is to listen the Hamilton soundtrack and its mix tape ad nauseum. My favorite song from the play is Satisfied, and it always makes me cry. Plus, I have loved Sia since I was in high school. So, when I heard this, it was done.


What have you been loving this week?

three favorites: november 13, 2016

November 13, 2016


Oh my. This week was exhausting. There's so much to do. There's so much to do.

1. Target's Signature Soy Candles. I love most of these. They burn for a long time, and the scents smell natural and nuanced.

2. This article, "What Do We Tell The Children?", from the Huffington Post helped me to gather my thoughts about my students and what they needed to hear this week. Honestly, on Wednesday, I just offered hugs, snacks, and offered support if any of my students needed it or felt sad and scared. I spent a lot of time telling my students that they were allowed to be angry. I'm at a loss for how to perfectly address the racism and xenophobia and misogyny displayed in our election results. But, I do know that there are actions I need to take to continue to hone my teaching, and my curriculum to combat these problems that are so obviously present in our country.

Here is one of my favorite sections from the article. "Tell them, second, that you will honor the outcome of the election, but that you will fight bigotry. Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated at your school. Tell them you stand by your Muslim families. Your same-sex parent families. Your gay students. Your Black families. Your female students. Your Mexican families. Your disabled students. Your immigrant families. Your trans students. Your Native students. Tell them you won’t let anyone hurt them or deport them or threaten them without having to contend with you first. Say that you will stand united as a school community, and that you will protect one another."

3. This American Life Podcast, "Will I Know Anyone At This Party?". This podcast is a sprawling look at the Republican party, and looks closely at the issue of immigration in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. It's hard to hear people speak about their fear of their Somali neighbors as many of my students are Somali. But, for those wondering "what happened?" this election, I think that this podcast provides a window into part of it.

"I remember one time a guy stood up at one of the other meetings. And he's active in the party. He's one of the better volunteers in the area. Everyone loves him, but he just stood up and he said, "This is why we lose. Whether you're right or wrong, you're coming off extremely racist. And if you want to make an argument that the reason the refugees coming is bad is because economically this, that, the other, we'll have that conversation, but right now it sounds like refugees are bad because they're Muslims." And he was pretty passionate about it. He got up and left. And he said the right thing and I think he looked better for it. But everyone else was like, oh, wow. I can't believe he thought we were racist. We said we're not racist."

three favorites: november 6, 2016

November 6, 2016


Hello all, it is Sunday night, and I am taking a moment to reflect on my three favorites from this week. My school week was a blur of creating models for final projects, and managing the chaos of the week before finals. I am in denial that the quarter ends this next week for our school. But, here are some items that helped me to survive, and sassed up my weekend.

1. Revlon Colorstay Foundation for oily/combination skin. I love this foundation, and it is the only full coverage foundation I own. This formula doesn't break me out, it lasts me a whole work day, and I am often impressed by how it melds with my skin when I get into my car to drive home. I think this is a good foundation to wear to work, especially if it will last me through teaching high schoolers, it should last someone who works in an office the whole day.

2. A thrifted black silk camisole. I recently found an untagged silk camisole at an Arc's Value Village near my house for three dollars. This weekend I wore it tucked into a pair of high waisted jeans under a cardigan, and I am in love! It is light and airy, and I loved having a layer that didn't cling to me. I may have to do some research to see if there are any reasonably priced silk camisoles out there.

3. Shalimar perfume, pretty sure I am wearing the eau de parfum. I found a perfume sample from Nordstrom this weekend that I had squirreled away. I've been thinking about warmer scents as the weather cools, and and low and behold, my sample was Shalimar, a classic oriental fragrance. This is a perfume that was worn by flappers, and is a smoky and powdery vanilla with a hint of citrus hidden on the edges. I am a sucker for anything vanillic and powdery. I threw on a red lip, sprayed my pulse points, and felt like a whole new person while running errands. I may need to order a decant of this for going out and weekends.

Here's a snap that sneakily captured all of my favorites, from my foundation and perfume to my silk camisole.

What were you loving this week?

reading: Blood on Snow


In the fall and winter I love to find books that are a little bit darker than usual, and settle in for a good read. Maybe I seek out these books because of Halloween and its after effects, maybe I like to read things that are darker because it reflects the weather and the darkening days. Who knows.

But, I found Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø at my local library and read it in a day. It fulfilled my need for something darker that I could snuggle into my couch and read, and it was really impressively written.

Blood on Snow is narrated by a Norwegian mafia fixer, a man who admits he doesn't read or write well, who tries to help people if he can but the only thing he is good at is murder. He kills people for a living. It was really interesting to have a story narrated from such a unique personality and point of view. There was suspense, a twist, and the setting of a dark, cold, Scandinavian city was the prefect backdrop for the story.

“Listen, I am someone who had chosen to earn their daily bread killing other people. I'm inclined to give people a bit of leeway when it comes to their actions and decisions.” ― Jo Nesbø, Blood on Snow

I would highly recommend this if you appreciate true crime, if you find yourself watching things like Criminal Minds as the weather gets colder, or if you enjoy having a view into unique psychologies.

three favorites: october 30, 2016

October 30, 2016


I think I am entering into the time of the year when I get sad. It happens. Teaching is hard work, and as finals approach, everyone is on edge. But, there are definitely some things that helped brighten my spirits.

1. Milani Amore Matte Lip Cremes. These are budge-proof liquid lipsticks. I used the color "Devotion" to give my Eleven costume a realistic edge with a fake nosebleed. My husband was alarmed at first when I showed him because he thought it was real. This liquid lipstick is seriously tenacious and stuck around all night. My one complaint is that once it is layered, it can crumble, and then what is left won't wash off. So, basically, be prepared.

2. The butterscotch M&M's with an embarrassing name. I think they are called "Booterscotch" and that may be one of the most tragic flavor names ever. But they are creamy and delicious.

3. The library. I rediscovered the libraries in my neighborhood, and just remembering the sunlight hitting the spines of so many books on a Saturday morning, made the world more bearable this week.


three favorites: october 23, 2016

October 23, 2016

Two lessons that my mom taught me are to be thankful for small moments, and to appreciate what I have. I am taking her advice, and featuring some of the small things that made my week.

1. Annabel glasses from Eye Buy Direct. I love these frames, and often I wear them around the house, especially on long weekends when I want to be cozy and feel a little different. The blush color is so lovely, and this type of frame is one that I have never had before. I really appreciate the prices from Eye Buy Direct, and right now they are having a buy one get one free sale.

2. Penelope sunglasses from Eye Buy Direct. These frames have an iridescent sheen to them, and are great for blocking the sun on all of my adventures, like walking my dog on my time off, or an early morning trip to the library. They are a good combination of eccentric and classic.

3. The board game Acquire. This game is what Monopoly should have been. It involves buying and selling properties, merging with other companies, and investing in stocks for each company. It's really fun, and I was reminded of this when we played with some friends. The level of focus needed isn't too overbearing, and everyone gets drawn into growing their companies and profits.

styling: polka dots and a jean jacket

October 19, 2016


Ellie glasses from EyeBuyDirect / thrifted Madewell jean jacket (similar here) / thrifted LOFT dress (similar here) / fleece lined tights / Target ankle boots / Apple Watch 38mm Sport Edition


It's MEA weekend here in Minnesota, and so I am heading into a four day weekend. I am looking forward to getting organized and entering into the end of my first quarter with focus. 

three favorites: october 16, 2016

October 16, 2016


1. H&M Matte lipstick in Route 66. I bought this lipstick in the summer and wore it a lot while I was traveling in Seattle. It was a good shade this week. It's a lovely brown nude tone, and the formula is even and velvety. If you are curious about their makeup, you can find the collection here. I especially recommend the lipstick, brushes, and plastic travel containers.

2. The New York Times Run-Up podcast. I've been relying on this podcast to get me through this election, as they produce two episodes a week on the content everyone is talking about in relation to politics. The coverage is interesting, and explores topics in depth. The two most recent episodes focused on gender and power.

3. White Cheddar CheezIts. Target had these crackers on sale, and they are my snack of choice currently to keep me from buying gas station donuts everyday on the commute home.

reading: Claire DeWitt series

October 14, 2016


“Be grateful for every scar life inflicts on you. Where we’re unhurt is where we are false. Where we are wounded and healed is where our real self gets to show itself. That’s where you get to show who you really are.” ― Sara Gran, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

I read and loved the ClaireDeWitt books by Sarah Gran during this summer while I was trying to read through female authored murder mysteries. Claire DeWitt is a unique detective who is prickly, superstitious, and is guided by a mysterious book on detection that has been integral to her life ever since she was a teenager. I loved reading a series that views the detective genre in a new way. These books turn the usual logical, and fact based work of solving mysteries into something based on instinct and almost spiritual. If you are looking for a good set of mysteries, and a refresh of the detective novel, these are a great option.

Here's a peek into the mysterious book, "Detecion", that captures the mystery and unique perspective of these books: “The detective thinks he is investigating a murder or a missing girl. But truly he is investigating something else altogether, something he cannot grasp hold of directly. Satisfaction will be rare. Uncertainty will be your natural state. Sureness will always elude you. The detective will always circle around what he wants, never seeing it whole. We do not go on despite this. We go on because of it.” ― Sara Gran, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead


styling: navy dress and layers

October 13, 2016

 Ellie glasses from EyeBuyDirect / LOFT cardigan / older Banana Republic dress (similar here) / Forever21 heeled oxford (similar here) / Apple Watch 38mm Sport Edition


I like it when I get to wear an outfit that is professional, makes me feel good, and is cozy. This outfit checked all those boxes.

three favorites: october 9, 2016

October 9, 2016

1. Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles perfume. This is my favorite cold weather perfume. It's an ambery cloud that hangs around me all day, getting progressively more powdery and soft as the day goes on. It's gorgeous, and the right mix of spicy and sweet.

2. Witch Please. I can't get enough of this podcast, as it brings together two of my favorite things: Harry Potter and feminism. I would highly recommend this podcast to Potter fans and to people who have long commutes. This podcast makes the afternoon drive home from work pass magically fast.

3. Charmed. I am late on the bandwagon with this show, but the story of three witch sisters learning about their identity as witches, and as family, is great. I especially enjoy the 90's styling: spaghetti straps and sassy short hair styles abound. It's a great show to stream while grading essays. Highly recommend.

reading: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

October 7, 2016


It feels fairly impossible to explain the impact that the Harry Potter series has had on me, and others from my generation. I learned about good and evil, friendship, bravery, and sacrifice from the magical stories about Harry Potter. To me, they are a beautiful example of the power of story, and a hopeful picture of love's triumph in the face of bigotry and prejudice.

When I heard that they were publishing the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I was really excited. I read a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction in my spare time, as it's fun to see the stories and characters continue on, and be re-imagined by fans. So, I was pumped and curious to see a continuation of the story that J. K. Rowling had collaborated on.

I really enjoyed reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It seemed right to watch Harry struggle through being a parent to his son, Albus. The idea that Harry has to confront his own prejudices, and learn how to be a good dad to his misfit son made sense. I was pleased to see Harry work through a new stage of life. In talking to friends, some of their complaints were that they felt the villain of the story was far-fetched. Personally, I have read way crazier stuff online, so I wasn't phased. I think I also wasn't bothered by the story because I just slotted this book in with all the other imaginings of the future of the characters. I didn't try to give this story more weight than others, I just enjoyed the exploration of a possible future for characters that I love.

Overall, Cursed Child continues the magic of Harry Potter for me, and is a lovely picture of the struggles and triumphs of parenting, adulthood, and trying to understand your family.


styling: deep red and lace up ankle boots

October 5, 2016

  Ellie glasses from EyeBuyDirect / LOFT cardigan and dress / Target lace up booties / Apple Watch 38mm Sport Edition


This is one of my favorite dresses. For a really long time, I had a lot of neutral dresses. It's been fun to add a pop of color and pattern into my dress options. 




three favorites: october 2, 2016

October 2, 2016


1. Target lace-up ankle boots. I picked these up, even though I hadn't been planning on buying any new clothes for the fall. They were too cute, and too on trend. I did get a blister my first time wearing them at the front of my foot, but took a break, formed some calluses, and haven't had a problem since. I also like that these don't look like medieval footwear, which is the vibe that I get from some lace-up flats.

2. Star Trek the Next Generation. My husband and I started watching this show together, and it's giving me Dr. Who vibes. I love the humanist focus on moral issues, and the styling is both hilarious in the case of Lamar Burton and enviable in the case of Lieutenant Tasha Yar. Her haircut kicks butt. If you are looking for something longer to watch and fill up these chilly autumn nights, I think that Next Generation is an interesting option.

3. Lindt Hello My Name is Strawberry Cheesecake chocolate bar. I tend to pick up one of these while I am grocery shopping, and have to work really hard not to eat the whole thing before my drive home is finished. This is one of my favorite chocolate bars; it's creamy, a little crunchy from the graham cracker crust pieces, and blends two of my favorite things - chocolate and cheesecake.

What are you loving this week?

what's in my school bag?

September 30, 2016


an expandable filer to hold papers to be graded, and a lesson planner

my laptop case, school computer, toiletries ( orla kiley pouch / neutrogena powder / chanel rouge coco shine / sonia kashuk velvet matte lip pencil ), headphones with a Target dollar section holder, and my favorite pens and washi tapes

I love getting a sneaky peak into how other people organize their bags, and what they bring to work with them. What's in your bag?

styling: blanket scarf and espadrilles

September 28, 2016

Ellie glasses from EyeBuyDirect / scarf from last season (similar), shoes, and button up plaid shirt from Target / thrifted Banana Republic cardigan / LOFT pantsApple Watch 38mm Sport Edition

I know that it is a weird transitional time of year when I am wearing sandals and a scarf. One of my students asked me why I was wearing a scarf, and I had to be honest and say it's the only professional way to bring what is basically a blanket to work. 


three favorites: september 25, 2016

September 25, 2016

NYX soft matte lip creams in Madrid and Berlin

1. The NYX soft matte lip creams are lovely. I was feeling an itch to buy some liquid lipsticks, but wanted to try some colors, like browns and deeper reds and purples, without splashing out thirty dollars. These are decent, and the price is right. My one complaint is that they don't fade evenly, but I haven't come across a liquid lipstick that does.

2. RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, Season Two. I am obsessed with drag queens in general, and this show in particular. This show is all the best parts of Project Runway, America's Next Top Model, American Idol, and America's Got Talent. Also, the makeup. The makeup. It's so incredible to watch the contestants transform into these beautiful and magical women. Drag Race is campy, inclusive, and damn funny. This season is particularly juicy, with queens eliminating each other instead of having Mama Ru announce who is "sashaying away". 

3. The Feedly App. Feedly collects posts from websites and blogs and places them in a user-friendly feed that allows me to sort through the different topics I like to keep up on. It's available on my iPhone, and there is a web based version. I connected it to my Google account and haven't looked back. I love that I don't miss any posts from my favorite bloggers, and I can catch up on posts at any time. 

using hogwarts houses for behavior management

September 23, 2016




Whenever I watch the Harry Potter movies or read the books, I admire the house points system. It's genius for behavior management! A competition between groups based on points earned and removed puts behavior in the context of teams and rewards. It's positive, and incentivizes participation. So, I thought about how I could bring this magical system to my classroom, and started using house points. Here's how I do it.

1. Split students into three to four groups. Right now, my seating chart best allows for three groups of students. I assigned a house to each section: Gryffindor, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff. When a student asked me, "who is Ravenclaw?" I said, "I am Ravenclaw!" It was awesome.

2. Have a place to tally house points. I keep mine on my white board, with a space to tally daily points, and to note the collection of points for each house per hour. I like to have students tally points. They like it, too.

3. Give students opportunities to earn points. Some ideas are:
  • I start every day with a bell ringer in my freshmen classes. I have students write down the goal for the day, and then have a task for them to do right when class starts. It's often a sentence that needs to have its grammar corrected, or a discussion question. I ask for a new person volunteering information each rotation through the houses. (So, if I start with Gryffindor, I  will turn to the next closest group, and then the third group for a correct answer. When the question comes back around to Gryffindor, someone new needs to talk from the group.) It's good to start the hour with a couple point opportunities for each house. 
  • When you ask questions to the class, offer a house point for a correct answer.
  • If a student is especially helpful or thoughtful, give their house a point. 
  • When you play a game, have students play in their houses, and add points to the weekly total for their house. I love to do things like Family Feud, Jeopardy, and Kahoot; adding points from games to a weekly total is really easy.
4. Enforce your cellphone rules and other expectations with points. I particularly like to use points to regulate cell phones in class. If students see a student from another group on their phone, they can point it out, and the offending team will lose a point.

5. On Fridays tally the points towards the end of class, and give a prize to the house that won. You could offer candy, or extra credit. I prefer Jolly Ranchers as prizes. They don't contain nuts, or gelatin, which I find to be the most common dietary restrictions at my school. I am astounded by the amount of effort most of my freshmen will put in for the chance to win one Jolly Rancher at the end of the week.


How do you manage behavior in creative ways? Do you need clarification on my system?

three favorites: september 18, 2016

September 19, 2016

my favorite grading pens at the moment:  the cocoiro letter pen by Kuretake

1. The pens pictured are a great marker tip for grading. I picked these up from a Japanese grocery store in Seattle. They have a refillable body, which you can place the ink cartridge into. 

2.  Girls Just Want to Have Fun. I love this movie. It's so campy, and it features very young Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt as rebellious catholic school girls that just want to dance. Nothing like a dance movie to lift the mood.

3. Mini Oreos. I am trying to buy less snacks, but during my afternoon commute I am typically starving. I bought the small bags of mini Oreos, and they are just junky enough to get me through my tedious drive home. Treat yo' self.

What were your three favorites for the week?

three favorites: september 10, 2016

September 11, 2016

Ellie glasses from EyeBuyDirect 

After feeling kind of sick during workshop week, I recovered and had a lovely weekend. Now, the first week of school is finished. Here are three things that are making me happy.

1. My glasses. I love the speckled frames and the silver studs. Upturned frames are where it's at.

2. The Enneagram test. My friend Bekah told me about this test, and there is a great in depth episode of The Liturgist podcast explaining the origins of this personality type system. I took a version of the test before the school year started, but found a more extensive site recently that helped me to understand my personality type in more depth. According to The Enneagram Institute, I am a Seven, which is "the enthusiast" personality. They describe Sevens as "The Busy, Variety-Seeking Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Acquisitive, and Scattered". Their descriptions gave me insight into myself that I hadn't seen from other tests, especially in the area of will power, which I have been trying to work on lately.

If you're looking for another language or system to examine yourself, and communicate your needs and motivations, I would highly recommend giving the test a try.

3. Stranger Things. Michael and I just finished the first season of this show on Netflix. It was a perfect combination of The Goonies and The X-Files. I loved it. The combination of the younger cast, the teenagers, and the adults working together against a monster that inhabits a shadow world was awesome: plenty of thrills, and the character Eleven is so interesting. Ugh. So good.



three favorites: august 21, 2016

August 21, 2016



Whenever we would leave a vacation or holiday, my mom would ask my family, "what were your three favorites?" I would often groan when she asked, but the question allowed me to reflect on the experiences I had, and decide what was important to me. So, every week on Sundays, I would like to start sharing my three favorites from the week. It will be a mix of favorite items and media, and I am hoping these posts will help me to cultivate gratitude for the lovely things in my life.

1. My Swedish Hasbeens Lotta platform clogs. They are comfy. They feel natural (and are). They are also on sale in a carmel color here. These give off quirky vintage vibes and they are going to be great for teaching.

2. The Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast. Oh, this is so beautiful. This podcast examines Harry Potter as if it were a religious text. It dives deeply into the humanity and meaning that can be found in Harry Potter. The quality analysis is an English teacher's dream, and the topic reflects beliefs my inner childhood fan couldn't fully put into words.

3. The New York Times Morning Briefing. Even though it will probably have me shelling out for a subscription to the New York Times, I am loving this email newsletter. It covers a variety of topics from the Olympics to politics each morning, with links to more complete articles. I am able to wake up, clear out my email inbox, and then get caught up on the news.

What were your three favorites this week?

teaching: blogs and online resources

August 20, 2016


One of my favorite things to do is look through the thoughtful work of other teachers and education professionals online. Here are some of the best resources I have found to inspire and inform my teaching.
  • Math=Love is a lovely blog written by a passionate and award winning math teacher. Her thoughts on grading and the growth of her students is so inspiring.
  • Edutopia is a great collection of a variety of articles. Especially now, they have great articles about the start of the school year.
  • Free Technology for Teachers is an amazing collection of free resources to be used for education. Really cool.
  • Guides and Workshops from America Healing on Racial Healing are strong resources for our work in racial reconciliation.
I also have written some posts that I think would be helpful, and have a Pinterest board I like to save stuff for high school English teachers in.
  • My blog posts are listed under the category "First Year Teacher Advice"
  • My teaching resources Pinterest board is full of classroom management ideas, among other thing.





reading: Girl on the Train

August 18, 2016


I know I am late to the party as far as the hype for this book goes, but this book was part of my attempt to read female authored mysteries and thrillers this summer.

The Girl on the Train features an unreliable narrator, Rachel, who is reeling from a breakup with her ex, and her life is falling apart. She is fired from her job, and still rides the train to conceal her unemployment from her roommate. Rachel's train takes her past Meagan's house, which Rachel idealizes, and Anna's house, which is the house that Rachel lived in with her ex.

This novel is a great slow thriller, with Megan going missing, and Rachel unsure of what happened the night of the disappearance. There were plenty of twists, and one right at the end. It was a fun read, and if you haven't bought into the hype, this book combines Gone Girl with the blacked out and violent vibes of the Netflix series Marcella. 'Nuff said for the mystery/thriller crowd.

traveling: Seattle Travel Tips

August 8, 2016


I am nostalgically looking through my pictures from my trip to Seattle at the beginning of this summer. I feel inspired to share some of my favorite things from my trip. Here are some tips and tricks for traveling in the Pacific Northwest.

Things that came in handy on my trip to Seattle: 
  • an Orca Card- for riding public transportation hassle free.
  • a pair of Chelsea ankle boot style rain boots- space efficient, versatile, and weatherproof.
  • a rain jacket- functions as a light layer if it doesn't rain. Don't go without one.
  • a couple pairs of tights and a mini skirt. I felt hip and less like a khaki clad tourist.

Places To Go

Places To Eat
  • Stateside - Vietnamese and French fusion. You have to get some dessert. 
  • Ma'Ono - the best fried chicken of your life, and close to Alki. 
  • Uwajimaya - amazing Japanese grocery store. Check out the sandwiches, salads, candy, and sneak a peak at the stationary.
  • Oddfellows Cafe
  • Barnacle - hip seafood aperitifs and strong cocktails served in a cozy little bar.
  • Cafe Fiorre  

liking: warm weather perfumes

June 3, 2016


As the seasons change, especially as school comes to an end, I get excited to shift fragrances.

When winter turned to spring, I switched to an old bottle of Marc Jacob's Daisy eau do toilette. It starts green and fruity and then develops into a light saccharine vanilla and generic woods base. It feels like an easy scent to throw on - there is nothing abrasive in the scent, and the smell is not distinguishably floral or gourmand.

For the summer, I am going to wear Estee Lauder's Bronze Goddess, which I have in the shimmering body oil. I have already been sneaking spritzes of it on sunny days. Bronze Goddess is a quintessential summer scent. It starts with a burst of amber, coconut, and bergamot. The scent softens with time, becoming creamier, and evoking salty beaches and suntan lotion.

What perfumes do you like to wear in the spring and summer?



reading: Cambodia Noir

May 29, 2016


I can feel an obsession starting. I have always loved murder mysteries and thrillers. My Netflix queue is full of Murder She Wrote, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, Top of the Lake, and Criminal Minds; however, I have now started reading mysteries and thrillers and I am hooked.

I follow @CrimeByTheBook on instagram (who also has a lovely blog) and saw a gorgeous picture she took that included a donut and this book, Cambodia Noir, by Nick Seeley. So, of course I had to read the book.

I downloaded the book to my kindle app, and then became immersed in the journal entries written by the mysterious and absent young journalist, Jun, and the first person narration of jaded photo-journalist, Will. Scarily perceptive Will is hired to investigate the disappearance of an intern from his paper. But, through twists and turns he realizes that Jun is not who he thought she was, and that his complacency in Cambodia is challenged by the danger he is in.

I don't want to give away more than that. This is an intense book- drugs, sex, danger. But, it was an enjoyable read, and I couldn't stop updating my friends on the twists and turns. If you like mystery, and have a stomach for the bleak, pick this one up. It is so good.

styling: floral pattern dress

May 26, 2016


glasses from Warby Parker / LOFT floral dress / shoes and earrings from Target / Apple Watch 38mm Sport Edition 

I am in love with this time of year. My classroom is still relatively cool with the help of a fan, and students are working in groups on argumentative essays. This dress is perfect for this lead up to the end of the year: airy, but substantial. I got it on sale with some of the winter items, and am loving the long sleeves right now. 

What are you wearing as the spring begins to wrap up? 

styling: light layers and polka dots

glasses from Warby Parker / GAP chambray top / school spirit tee / thrifted skirt / shoes from Target / Apple Watch 38mm Sport Edition 

This is an example of the light layering necessary, working in a building without air conditioning. How do you manage to mix it up, even when it starts getting hot out?

reading: Purple Hibiscus

May 17, 2016


Reading Purple Hibiscus was my first experience with the mind and writing of Chimanda Ngozi Adichie. The book is a touching depiction of the fear and courage of a girl growing up under the harsh tyranny of her religious father in Nigeria. The book throws the reader into Nigerian culture- the food, the surroundings, and the variety of people. I really appreciated the world this book opened up for me, and where the book fits with other books. It refers to Things Fall Apart from the beginning, with the family falling apart at the rebellion of Kambili's brother, Jaja; also, the book reminded me of the Poisonwood Bible- the story of a dictatorial religious father told by women.


"We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew. Perhaps it was so that we would not ask the other questions, the ones whose answers we did not want to know." - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus


This is a story about fathers- the impact of a traditional grandfather, and an ambitious son, on a timid granddaughter- Kambili, the narrator. Her life is framed by the struggle of her harsh Christian father against his father, which symbolizes the struggle of Africa against colonialism. Kambili finds her voice and a hint of freedom as she interacts with her aunt and gets away from the suffocating and sometimes dangerous presence of her father. She gets to know her grandfather, her cousins, and more about herself.

"To call him humble was to make rudeness normal. Besides, humility had always seemed to him a specious thing, invented for the comfort of others; you were praised for humility by people because you did not make them feel any more lacking than they already did. It was honesty that he valued; he had always wished himself to be truly honest, and always feared that he was not." - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus


In the end, the story teaches the strength of true family- family that supports and challenges, rather than stifles and controls. This book describes describes a character- and an Africa- poised to bloom despite hardship, much like the revolutionary purple hibiscus.

“Chineke! Bless the children of my children. Let your eyes follow them away from evil and towards good.” Papa-Nnukwu smiled as he spoke. His few front teeth seemed a deeper yellow in the light, like fresh corn kernels. The wide gaps in his gums were tinged a subtle tawny color. “Chineke! Those who wish others well, keep them well. Those who wish others ill, keep them ill.” - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus


styling: peplum and prints

May 14, 2016


glasses from Warby Parker / Forever 21 Peplum top / GAP patterned skinny pants / shoes from Target / Apple Watch 38mm Sport Edition / Coach wristlet wallet

This was a great spring weekend outfit for a sit down dinner benefit for an arts school in my neighborhood. I particularly love the peplum top.

styling: blush and lace

May 13, 2016

T H U R S D A Y: glasses from Warby Parker / vintage blush blazer / lace top from Target / LOFT pants / DV LOOK sandals from Target / Apple Watch 38mm Sport Edition

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