Thursday, November 27, 2014


It’s that time of year again, and though I think we should reflect on the things we’re thankful for every day of the year (I’m including myself in this), I’m happy for a day dedicated to giving thanks. And I know I did a very similar post last year, but I’m not even going to look at until after this post goes live, when I will then examine both the similarities and differences of these two posts.

This morning started off on an early note, as I completed my fourth consecutive TXU Energy Turkey Trot. Remember when I hated running? Yeah, me too, but now I can’t imagine my Thanksgiving without a 7:30am run through the Houston Galleria area. I left early, so as to hopefully avoid some of the traffic I hit last year, and I managed to get a good parking spot, enjoy the warmth of my car, and then hit the pavement for a 6.2 mile run. I honestly could not have asked for better weather, and I am so glad that I got to start out my Thanksgiving doing one of my very favorite activities. And a HUGE shout out and thank you to the many volunteers who were out there at 3:00am. You guys made this race possible, and are the real MVP's!

And because it’s Thanksgiving, and we’re all about to eat our body weight in turkey, here’s a Houston Turkey Trot Fun Fact for you guys:
  • Wild turkeys have excellent vision during the day but don't see as well at night. They are also very mobile. Turkeys can run at speeds up to 25 mph, and they can fly up to 55 mph.”
This came straight from the TXU Turkey Trot website, and now you have something with which you can impress all of your guests.

Now, let’s get to the cheesy part of this post – what I’m thankful for.

Where do I even BEGIN with this post? I have so much to be thankful for that I don’t even know where to start. This new chapter of my life has been such a whirlwind, in the most overwhelming and exciting and humbling way. So I think I’ll start with that.

I’m beyond thankful for my job. That I have a job. That I have a job that is something new each and every day. A job that keeps me on my toes and never gets boring, and kids that simultaneously infuriate me and make me laugh all in the span of five minutes.  I am thankful for such a supportive and encouraging administrative team, who handles everything that comes their way with both class and professionalism. I am thankful for students who (sometimes) listen to me and impress me and make me think really hard about ever having kids of my own (I’m kidding, sort of). They fight me and joke with me and exasperate me to no end, but if I can be a bright spot in even one of their days, I’ve done something right. I’m thankful for my own teachers, because no one can know how hard your job is until you’ve experienced it from the other side. And I can't end this without making the very bold statement that some of my fellow Bellaire teachers are some of the kindest people I have ever met. I'm constantly being asked how I'm doing, if I need anything, and just reassured that I'm doing a great job (which might be taking things a bit far). I'm lucky, and I'm so happy that I am where I am.

I’m thankful for volleyball. Not only for the years that I played, but also for the opportunity to be on the other side of the game and give back to the sport that gave me so incredibly much as a player. When I played my final high school volleyball game just over five years ago, I never would have dreamed that I would be one day be back. But, here I am! I’m thankful for the three other coaches who were patient with me, who showed me grace, who taught me something new each day, who understood that they “threw me into the ring of fire” (Ap’s words, not mine), but still told me that I was doing a great job, and that I have a great work ethic. I’m thankful for the girls' parents who came to every game, despite the fact that they knew it was going to be a blowout, who sent me words of encouragement when I was feeling like I was in over my head, and who were patient with me as I navigated the waters as a first-year coach. I’m thankful for hard-working, funny, and musically-talented (ha!) girls who made the long hours at school absolutely worth it. I have loved getting to know them not only as players, but also as young women, who taught me so much about what it means to love and support other people.

Glory days
I’m thankful for my sweet parents, who welcomed me back home with open arms. Who probably could have told me that my job was going to be hard, but let me figure it out on my own. Who have encouraged me from day one, who have very literally been with me every step of the way, who met me at a place convenient for me to bring me dinner from my favorite restaurant, who came to my volleyball games – both when I was the player, and now as the coach. Who do my grocery shopping for me, who proofread my vocabulary quizzes, who do my laundry and my dishes, and have made my life as a first-year teacher one thousand times easier. Who make sure I actually get out of bed in the morning, and who give me money to buy books for my reluctant-reading kiddos. Who listen to my stories and complaints and successes and tell me daily that they're proud of all that I manage to balance. They have done so much for me and I don’t tell them thank you nearly enough. They have done more for me than I could ever put into words, and to say that I am thankful for them is an understatement.

My rocks
I’m thankful for a job that allows me to see the sunrise each morning, because we all know by now that they’re my unofficial love language. Dylan laughs at me because he said if anyone looked at the photo album on my phone, all they would see would be sunrises and food. There are worse things in life, right?

Speaking of Dylan, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that today marks 18 months since our very first real date at Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Austin. He has been there through a whole lot – through student teaching and the interview process and the waiting game and now my first year teaching – and he has listened to me cry and complain, and he has listened to me tell endless stories about my students, and he never fails to tell me that I’m doing a great job. He also tells me what I don’t necessarily want to hear (but need to hear) in that he lets me whine and complain but he also gets me to snap back to reality and realize that no, every day isn’t going to be great, but that there is great found in every day. He doesn’t let me feel sorry for myself for long, because he inadvertently reminds me how lucky I am to have the job that I have. That I’m making a difference even when I don’t realize it. He has shown me grace and forgiveness and so much love from afar, and all of this while being an absolute rockstar in Austin. More on that to come. Sure, we've experienced some choppy waters, but they have led to some smoother sailing. He never said one discouraging word when I didn’t even apply for a job in Austin, rather, encouraging me through the entire application and interview process. I think he was more stressed than I was when waiting to hear back from Bellaire. It’s been 18 months of laughter and fun, and growing and being challenged, and I’m so, so happy to have him by my side.

I’m thankful for traffic (yes, you read that correctly), because it gives me more time to listen to music. I’ll admit that I don’t have an active “quiet time” each day, but every day on the way to and from school I listen to KSBJ, and I have learned more and more that Jesus speaks to me through the words of the songs that play on this station. Luckily, I don’t have to sit in too much traffic these days, but if I ever do, I try not to be frustrated, yet look at that as more time to spend with Him. There are perks to living 20 minutes away from where I work, and that is certainly one of them. All of that being said, I still think Houston drivers are the craziest of all.

I’m thankful for weekly walks at Hermann Park with Sarah, for a best friendship that didn't end when the sharing of suite 1 did. Her being a full-time medical student, and me being a full-time teacher, it would be easy to brush off hanging out, blaming it on the fact that we’re both entirely too busy. Lucky for us, Bellaire isn’t far from the Houston Medical Center, and we’ve managed to keep up with weekly walks at Hermann Park, catching up on what these first few months out of undergrad have brought us.

I’m thankful for reunions with roommates. It was weird going from seeing my best friends every single day, without even having to make an effort, to going days without seeing people my own age. I’ve gotten to see Natalie and Sarah, as they reside in the same city that I reside in, but Jamie Lynn gave up a weekend to come visit us, and I was able to squeeze in some time with Katie one weekend when we were both in Austin. I’m thankful for friendships that didn’t end when we walked the stage, and for our Clubhouse group text that demonstrates that none of us have really changed at all, even when living in very different cities.

I’m thankful for legs that allow me to run (I know for a fact that I said that last year) because running brings me a lot of joy and peace, a roof over my head, felt tip pens, food on my table, clean water, high schools friends who make it so incredibly easy to pick up right where we left off, dark chocolate, sunshine, a job that allows me all the same breaks that I'm already used to, gummy vitamins, blankets that keep me warm, podcasts, Happy Socks, chapstick, the sweet Kopy Kingdom ladies, snooze buttons that allow me those extra few minutes of calmness, a car that runs, Longhorn football that improves with every game (Hook ‘em Horns!), and for all of you who have stuck with my inconsistent blogging habits. I sometimes feel weighed down when people ask when there’s going to be a new post, but it only means that you guys enjoy reading the nonsense things I have to say, and that means more to me than I could ever express.

And finally, and most of all, I’m thankful for a God who pursues me even when I ignore Him. I am almost finished with this journal that I started on one of the very last days of 2013. It has carried me throughout this entire year, and I decided to read through it a couple of weeks back. I found what I wrote the day after my interview at Bellaire, and I’m thankful that even when I don’t see Him, and even when I don’t acknowledge Him, He is with me every moment of every day. He placed me where I am for a purpose, and it’s so reassuring to know that He answers prayers and holds me in the palm of His hand. He has a plan just for ME, and that everything is done on His timing. What a sweet promise, and what a reason to give thanks!

And a final thank you to all of you who have actually made it this far in the post. This was a long one, but would you expect anything less from me? I hope you all enjoy an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving, surrounded by loved ones and reflecting on all that you do have before getting caught up in the Christmas-season frenzy. Here’s to eating lots of good food, watching lots of good football, and spending lots of good time with some of my favorite people. It’s no wonder that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Four Facts Survey

Happy Wednesday! Thanskgiving Eve, and we could not have asked for a more beautiful day here in Houston. Sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s, and I could not be happier. Especially after sharing a delicious breakfast with Dylan this morning at The Egg and I. Delicious though it was, our time at the restaurant was one little mistake after another. We decided to cut them a break, as it was relatively busy while we were there. And even if we were forgotten about in our little secluded corner of the restaurant, nothing can beat cleaning my plate with him. Seriously. Every time we go out to eat we both have absolutely nothing left on our plates at the end of the meal.

Anyway, because I don’t have much more to report, I saw this survey posted on Julie’s blog over at Peanut Butter Fingers and though it’s not Sunday, and I’m fairly sure that I’ve filled this out before, I decided to complete this Four Facts Survey. I doubt my answers will be the same, and if they are, it’s fun to see that some things stay constant amidst change.

Four names that people call me other than my real name:

1. Kel
2. KT
3. KTom
4. Kelli Kat

Four jobs I’ve had:

1. Teacher
2. Volleyball coach
3. Resident Assistant
4. Volleyball scorekeeper

7/9 of the '11-'12 RA's
Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

1. She’s the Man
2. Remember the Titans
3. The Breakfast Club
4. Harry Potter (for some reason these movies are always better when it’s Harry Potter Weekend)

Four books I’d recommend:

2. Harry Potter (the entire series)

(And so many more, but I'm trying to stick to what the survey calls for)

Four places I’ve lived

1. Houston, TX
2. Austin, TX
3. Barcelona, Spain
4. Bellaire High School (I kid, but during volleyball season I did spend more time at school than at home)

Miss that skyline on the reg
Four places I’ve visited (and want to revisit):

1. Maui, Hawaii
2. London, England
3. San Francisco, California
4. Telluride, Colorado

Four places I’d like to visit:

1. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
2. Interlaken, Switzerland (I’m dying to go canyon jumping!)
3. Alaska
4. Maine

Four things I prefer not to eat:

1. Cheese & Milk
2. Avocado (I love guacamole, but I’m not a huge avocado fan)
3. Applesauce (it’s a texture thing)
4. Mayonnaise

Four of my favorite foods:

1. Frozen yogurt
2. Salmon
3. Dark chocolate
4. Honeycrisp apples

Four TV shows I watch:

1. Boy Meets World
2. Friday Night Lights
3. Dancing With the Stars
4. Family Feud (guilty pleasure)

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:

1. Friendswood Friendsgiving
2. Dylan’s 22nd birthday!
3. Christmas break, and Christmas-time in general
4. Wilchester mini-reunion

My first Friendswood Friendsgiving
Two girls I can't wait to catch up with!
Four stores I frequent:

1. Anthropologie
2. Target
3. Paper Source
4. Barnes and Noble (I heart books)

Four forms of exercise I enjoy:

1. Running
2. Swimming
3. Rollerblading
4. Walking

And on that note, I’m off to go enjoy the beautiful weather, and maybe get a head start on some of the schoolwork I need to accomplish this week. I always say that I’m going to finish it early so that I can enjoy the majority of the break, and then Sunday comes and I’m complaining about all of the work that I still have left to do. So, hopefully the next time I check in with you guys, I’ve accomplished much of what I want to accomplish! Have a great rest of your day, and I will be back tomorrow with a Thanksgiving post. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What I've Been Up To

Happy Sunday (again)! It is an absolutely gorgeous day here in Houston, and the sunshine and higher temperatures is a very welcome sight after the rainy days and close-to-freezing temperatures we experienced this past week. I know the rain is a good thing, but it just makes it so difficult to do anything. Traffic is always significantly worse, and all I want to do is curl up and take a nap. Which is exactly what I did yesterday. I went upstairs with the intention of grading expository essays. Two hours later I realized that I had not taken even one essay out of my bag. Oh well!

Anyway, it’s been a little while since I’ve checked in with you guys, so I’ll pick up where I left off: PiYo Live Certification.

I was lucky enough to be able to go not even five minutes up the road to the MAC for Women for this training. Some people came in from Corpus Christi, Harlingen, and San Antonio. Those are some dedicated souls. I’m not sure I would have attended if I had to travel out of the city, because coming home late on a Sunday is never fun, especially after an 8-hour (sweaty) training, but luckily that wasn’t much of a concern for me.

The training itself was great, and left me feeling very sore the next day. Because I tend to stick to running, walking, swimming, and lately, rollerblading (my new blades are one of my best purchases to date), the moves found in a PiYo class are not typically things I would do on my own. What do you do in a PiYo class, you ask? Well, let me tell you!

Straight from the BeachBody website, PiYo combines the “muscle-sculpting, core-firming benefits of Pilates with the strength and flexibility advantages of yoga.” I would probably consider myself the worst yogi of all time because I find it to be too slow-paced for my liking. And the slow pace isn’t a bad thing, that’s just my own personal preference. What I like about PiYo is that you aren’t holding the poses for long spurts of time. The pace is fast, there are obvious cardio and strength components, and the best part is that this is a low-impact, high-intensity, fat-burning workout. I love running, but I definitely feel it in my knees, especially when I run a distance of seven miles or more. Because I often neglect the strength and stretching part of exercise, I thought this might be a good way to build it into my regular routine. And honestly, I thought it might be fun to get certified to teach a group exercise class should the opportunity ever arise.

Not that I am ready to get up in front of a class and teach after one day of training. Sure, we did lots of cuing, practicing the basic movements and choreography over and over again, and working with specific modifications, PiYo is a very specific sequence. While you can tweak a few things here and there, the poses, exercises, and music demonstrated and used on that DVD release must be what you follow in your class. I would probably want to take a few more PiYo classes before I even felt comfortable thinking about getting up in front of a class myself, but I wanted to get certified while it was still convenient to me.
Our class and fearless leader
All in all, it was a very worthwhile, yet very tiring, day, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to learn something new. That was also one of my last healthy days, as later that week I started coming down with a nasty cold that I just couldn’t seem to shake. That was probably due in large part that I refused to give in to my symptoms, slow down, and take a day off. I even ran a 14k (8.7 miles) with a fever. I felt fine when I woke up that morning, and I really wanted to participate in this Bellaire Women’s Soccer fundraiser run. Dylan came over later that day and spent most of the afternoon exposing himself to my germs, trying to help me not feel so achy and weak. I was sentenced to my bed the rest of that weekend, as hard as that was for me to do, but it worked, because I felt well enough to tackle the annual Nutcracker Market with my mom that Thursday,

and make the drive to Austin on Friday. The NutcrackerMarket is put on by the Houston Ballet and can be described as a “holiday shopping wonderland.” Vendors from all over the country come to our NRG Center to sell their products to some very enthusiastic women. Seriously. You have to have a good attitude at this event – it is an absolute madhouse, yet such a good way to kick off the holiday season. My mom and I used to volunteer at the event, and then we would shop until we could no longer walk. I came home from college my freshman and sophomore years (bringing some friends along with me), but I was unable to make it home my last two years. The Nutcracker Market was one of the things that drew me back to Houston. I wish I could say I was kidding. Anyway, my mom used to go with her mom (my Granny), my mom and I go, and you better believe I will be introducing my daughter to the excitement and chaos that is The Nutcracker Market. And that’s chaos in a good way. I’m always extremely impressed by how well-organized the event is. Shout out to all of the incredible volunteers – you guys have hearts of gold.
Shopped 'til we dropped - literally!
And the very next day I took off of school a little bit early (perks of having 7th period off), and headed straight to Austin for Texas Men’s Basketball’s opening game against North Dakota State University. Dylan and I went to an early dinner at Hillside Farmacy before watching Texas put a beat down on NDSU. And NDSU is a fairly decent team. We just looked really, really good, and I’m hoping we will be good enough to make a Final Four appearance.

Though the weather wasn’t great, it was still a wonderful weekend filled with good food (would you expect anything less?) and even better company. We revisited Jasper’s – the restaurant we went to in celebration of the end of student teaching – as well as Toastie’s – a fabulous, lesser-known sandwich shop. While the sandwiches are top notch, it’s the table topics that keep this place on my radar. In a society that is constantly obsessed with checking their phones (myself included), it’s nice to focus on unique questions that lead to some good conversation.

We also couldn’t resist going to one of my very favorite restaurants in Austin, Mandola’s Italian Restaurant, for some post-dinner gelato. Calories don’t count when you’re on vacation, right?

I left Austin relatively early on Sunday, so that I could make it back to Houston in time for the Bellaire Volleyball banquet at Braeburn Country Club, which was a far cry from our banquets that took place in the Stratford High School Cafeteria. I was pretty nervous about the speech I had to give, but I think it went pretty well. Public speaking is not my forte, but it was nice to get it over with and be able to enjoy the rest of the banquet. It brought back such sweet memories, and I was once again reminded why I love the game, and why I am so grateful for the opportunity to coach such a great group of freshmen. Coaching led to a little more stress and a little less sleep, gray hairs at the age of 22, and lots of mistakes made, but all that I gained far outweighed anything that I may have lost.

 And I promise I will do better about sticking to my theme of food and exercise – I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I have frequented Hungry’s,

and Salata.

And I do have a few good workouts to share with you guys, but those will have to wait for another post (that will come soon, I promise)! And I’m hoping to actually share some recipes, but those might have to wait until Christmas break, which will (thankfully) be here before I know it. But first let’s focus on Thanksgiving, my all-time favorite holiday, and Thanksgiving break, which can’t come soon enough. Have a great last few hours of your weekend, and fingers crossed that I check back in with you guys this week!

Serious Survey

Another Sunday, another survey! I say this as if I post surveys on a regular basis. I'm really going to try and get back into this routine, because if nothing else, I should be able to write at least one blog post a weekend. This survey really made me think, but I had fun with it nonetheless. Enjoy!

1. When a cashier in the checkout line at the grocery store is being a grump for no reason, how do you typically react?
I am usually a fairly pleasant (unless I myself am in a grumpy mood) person, and I think by simply being polite - saying please and thank you - and just telling that person to have a good day as you leave can lift their spirits more than you will ever know. I will say that I do have my sassy moments, though, and I have been known to show a little bit of that sass if someone is acting especially rude and I'm just not in the mood for it.

2. Are you the type that likes going out with your girlfriends or staying in?
It depends on the day. I am definitely a homebody in that I like to go to bed early, get up early, and I am generally not a very spontaneous person. Sometimes I am so excited to go do something, but then the activities of the day (especially now - high schoolers zap all the energy out of me) just wear me out, and I want nothing more than to put on my pajamas, turn on a chick flick, microwave some popcorn, and call it a night. Other times, a night spent doing something new and fun with my friends is just what I need.

3. Do you sob and get emotional watching romance movies?
I think the better question is in what movie do I not cry and get emotional while watching. It is true that I have gotten better about crying in movies as I have gotten older, or maybe my reason for crying in a movie has changed. I typically find myself crying when someone loses a loved one, or when something happens within the family. And I think any movie with a military scene has to be considered in a category of its own.

4. What stresses you out the most?
I used to be a very stressed out person - worrying about every little thing I could think to worry about. Especially in high school. Something changed in me come college, and I stopped worrying so much about things beyond my control. While I do think a little stress is a good thing, you shouldn't have so much of it that you make yourself sick. That being said, I do have the occasional "I-can't-handle-everything-on-my-plate-right-now" breakdown. Especially when I was in the midst of volleyball season. I mean really, WHAT was I thinking?

5. What do you think people think of you?
Well, I was voted "Best Personality" in high school, so you tell me (insert sassy emoji girl here). I'm just kidding, of course, and I tend to think I'm more on the shy side, especially when I first meet someone or am in a group setting in which I don't know many people. And even if I do know you really well, I tend to be more of a listener than a talker. I've been told by a couple recently that they respect my work ethic, and while I certainly have my moments of complaining, I hope that I can be a source of motivation and encouragement to those around me.

6. When you overindulge do you hit the gym to burn it all off, or just accept the indulgence and follow your same routine?
I won't lie and say that I don't get a little frustrated with myself when I overindulge, but I usually accept that it happens and move on with the rest of my day, knowing that I live a relatively healthy lifestyle and that one day of too much dessert is not going to make much of a difference. Besides, what's life without a little dessert every now and again? That being said, there are times when I do dwell on my indulgences, and I feel as though I have to workout extra hard in order to make up for it.

7. Are you easily annoyed?
Again, it depends. I am pretty good about brushing things off, but occasionally someone will do something seemingly insignificant that just makes me snap. I have become so accustomed to shrugging things off and not letting them get to me, that when people continue to do the same things over and over again, I'll let you know when I've had enough. I really don't list tardiness (as I am sure you all have gathered by now), and I am also easily annoyed by people who are constantly negative, probably because it puts me in that negative mindset and I really don't like being that way.

8. What do you think is your biggest personality flaw?
This is a great question. I think I am way too hard on myself. I push myself daily to be the best that I can be, and when I "fail," I am unnecessarily tough on myself. This was especially true throughout my volleyball days. I would replay every game in my mind, thinking about where I could have played better defense, or made a better setting decision. Those thoughts are good thoughts to have, but not so much that I would dwell on them and let them affect the next game. That has also carried over into this new chapter of life, but I've been able to give myself a little bit more grace. I know that I'm not going to do everything right - not even close to everything right, for that matter - nor am I expected to do everything right. At the same time, I do try to better myself each and every day, and it is nice to hear constructive (aka keep it positive, please) criticism that will help me to improve my craft.

9. What is one thing you don’t think people see enough of when it comes to your personality?
I think people don't see enough of my silly side. People probably think I am "all business," and the truth is, I am all about getting things done. I love making to-do lists (and crossing things off), but sometimes I forget to display that I am, in fact, having a good time. I think a lot of my personality comes out on this blog, and though I am serious about and dedicated to the things I do and believe in, I can be pretty funny when it comes down to it. Or at least I think I'm funny. And though it may not always come across that way, I love laughter and can typically always find something to laugh at.

10. Can you feel relaxed in a busy crowd or messy room?
Not really. Crowds give me anxiety, probably because I believe in a personal bubble, and when my room is a mess, I have a hard time relaxing in there. Sarah and I typically kept our room (long live Suite 1) pretty neat, but there were days when we just had to throw aside our work and organize our belongings. I tend to like it when things are in their proper place, but I won't stress over a little bit of mess. Lived-in isn't the same as messy, right?

Or maybe sometimes it was just my hard
And now I'm off to enjoy what I hope will be an extremely productive and enjoyable Sunday. We are just TWO days away from Thanksgiving break, so fingers crossed for students who are not too out of control (though that might be asking just a bit too much out of them)!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Old Factory Scented Soy Wax Candle Review

Happy Saturday! This post has unfortunately been a LONG time coming. It took me a long time to even respond to Rachel when she reached out to me in an email to do a review of her product - Old Factory Scented Soy Wax Candles. I of course wanted to do it, but I was feeling the pressure of school and volleyball and I just couldn’t find it in me to respond. Really great business tactics, I know.

Anyway, I finally responded to her saying that I would absolutely love to do the review if it was still open. Rachel promptly replied with instructions on how to receive my free candles, and I remember sitting in a classroom during my off period being torn in about three different directions over which package to select. I asked Dylan his opinion, and because we were just beginning to experience some fall weather, he told me that I should get “Fall Harvest.” I ended up agreeing with him, telling myself that if I liked them that much, I could always order more.
And it looks like I’ll be doing just that. I love candles, and I was excited for an excuse to try something different from my typical Volcano scent. So, I lit these candles during one of my many essay-grading sessions, and the combination of Cranberry, Pumpkin Spice, and Autumn Leaves made the process much less haunting. The smell permeated not only all throughout my room and the entire upstairs, but it wafted downstairs as well, causing my curious mom to wander upstairs to check out the cause of the holiday-esque smell.
Interestingly enough, I don’t love the smell of each of these scents on their own. But they all come together so nicely, and really make it feel like fall. Not that we were really struggling with that last week, but still. None of the scents, in my opinion, overpower another, and they all complement one another very well.

In addition to smelling wonderful, the presentation they make is just precious. From the box they come in, complete with a cute piece of cardstock listing off the scents, to the petite little candles themselves. Who knew something so small could produce such a powerful scent?


They would make the perfect gift, and really, there are scent themes that anyone can appreciate. For all of my coffee lovers, enter into your own personal Coffee Shop. For those of you who want to feel like you’re in a Spa without actually forking over the money to do so, treat yourself to some candles to help with that process. Winter is fast approaching, so harbor your own Winter Wonderland within your very own home. And even for the men who might be reading this, and feel that these themes are more on the feminine side, there’s even a theme for you: Man Cave.
What’s more is that these little candles claim to give you over 20 hours of burn time. And they are soy candles, meaning they burn clean. They’re easy to extinguish – you can either blow them out as you probably do with most candles, or you can simply screw the lid back onto the candles to extinguish the flame, and to keep your room free of any excess smoke from blowing out the candles. In my experience, however, because these candles are so small, I didn’t notice any smoke at all. Totally up to you!

And finally, as I mentioned on Friday, how can you turn down something so punny? Old Factory is such a play on words – the olfactory sense of smell – and for someone like myself who loves words, that’s another check in the yes column. So, if you haven’t concluded this by now, I would absolutely recommend these candles, and with the holiday season so quickly approaching, you might consider giving them as a gift to someone (or someones) on your list. You can follow this link to check out all of the different themes, and decide which one would make the perfect gift. And don’t feel bad about treating yourself to a set – we all deserve to be pampered every now and then, right? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Things I'm Loving Friday XV

And here I am, yet again, after another long hiatus from this blog. I thought I was going to have some extra time, but school picked up the pace big time (is my to-do list ever going to end?), I was not feeling well for about a week, so any extra time I had I was made to just rest (though I did run almost 9 miles with a fever, and I really wouldn’t recommend it), and then a trip to Austin, combined with our volleyball banquet (at which I had to give a speech, eek!), blogging was, once again, put on the back-burner. I’m hoping to get really ahead on all things school related this weekend so that I can put a little bit more time into the blog this upcoming week. And hallelujah for Thanksgiving break because this work thing is no joke. And while I’m loving it so much more than I did just a month ago, this little break is going to be very much appreciated.

ExposiTORY is going to help you pass the STAAR test!

So, let’s pick back up with some Things I’m Loving Friday. I meant to post some of these in an earlier Things I’m Loving Friday post, and then obviously never quite got around to it. Whoops!

Teacher as Student
As someone who just stepped out of the student role, I absolutely empathize with this article. I do spend so much of my time telling students to be quiet or pay attention, that I have no doubt they are tired of hearing it. Take it from someone who is a professional development leader's worst nightmare - sitting still all day is hard, boring, and exhausting. I still remember (as if it was that long ago) my freshman English teacher's implementation of the "break." Each six weeks, one member of the class was elected the break person. Every day (or every other day, because we were on a block schedule), that person could call "break" at any time during the class period, and we stopped what we were doing, got up to stretch, go to the bathroom, get water, etc., and I'm wondering why I haven't implemented that same procedure yet.

Alphabet Aerobics
This one was a long time coming, but many, many weeks ago Dylan sent me a link to this song being rapped by Daniel Radcliffe on Saturday Night Live, claiming that it would be perfect to show my students. Though I have already gone over alliteration with them, and it’s not a very difficult concept, I will definitely try to find a few extra minutes one day so that I can show them this video. Not all of what you learn in school has to be boring, right? Shout out to Daniel for keeping the magic alive!

Old Factory Candles
A more formal and comprehensive review of these delightful little candles will be coming this weekend (this has also been a long time coming), but when Rachel reached out to me about trying a set of these candles in exchange for a review of them on fitnessandfroyo, how could I say no? I love candles, and I had a hard time deciding between all of the different “themes.” Long story short, these candles are made with natural soy wax, and claim to burn for 20 hours. I was surprised to hear that when I saw their small size, but so far, so good. While I don’t love every scent individually, all three of them burning together created a wonderful aroma in my bedroom, which is exactly the way they were meant to be used. Plus, I love the play on words (Old Factory – olfactory), because I’m all about a good pun! You can read my Amazon review here to hold you over until the post goes live.


I saw this on Twitter just last week and I could not help but screen shot it. You are probably familiar with the TOMS one-for-one deal, in that for every pair of TOMS shoes that you purchase, a pair is sent to a child in need, but Target has introduced a limited-edition #TomsforTarget line, in which every Target+Toms limited-edition gift that you buy, Target and Toms will be giving back a pair of shoes, a blanket, or meal to those who are in need. Plus, I really like these cute cards that ask you to reflect on things that make you happy, and also people or things for which you are thankful. Though Thanksgiving is right around the corner, it’s always the right day to give thanks, even for the seemingly small things.

And on that note, I’m off to go squeeze in a workout. I’m hoping that this Friday will be spent relaxing, maybe doing a little bit of grading, and maybe even some shopping if I feel as though I’ve been productive enough to earn that (and if the rain settles down a bit). I have to reward myself for the hours spent sitting at my dining room table grading essays and creating PowerPoints that will engage my reluctant students, and a trip to Anthropologie is  the best way to do just that. Let’s just hope the rain holds off for a little while!