Thursday, July 27, 2017

Things I'm Loving Friday LVI

I'm really glad I picked the last week of (my) summer to start writing again. I'm not sure what has gotten into me, but maybe I'll pop in a time or two over these next couple of months when inspiration hits me. Or when I have a free moment and something I want to share. But let's just focus on the fact that I'm getting a post out today. Another roundup of some Things I'm Loving lately, so without further ado, enjoy!

I Skeptically Tried Practicing Gratitude
If you have been around for awhile, then you know how much of a sucker I am for articles like this. If you start losing yourself on Instagram, you'll see a lot of posts with captions that include the word "grateful". And I totally understand that that word can elicit eye rolls from many. But I totally believe in the gratitude thing. There's a lot of negativity around us. And it's really easy to find things to complain about. But by consciously focusing on just five specific things to be grateful for each day, that's a game changer in my opinion. When I'm having "one of those days", I have to remind myself that every day may not be great, but that there's something great in every day. A little gratitude can go a long, long way, and I'm hoping to pick the habit back up at the start of the new school year.

11/22/63 by Stephen King
And with my 11th book of the summer, I present to you this monster written by Stephen King. This book had been on my list forever, but I was a little intimidated by the sheer length of it. I was an English major in college, and I am an English teacher, but I avoided reading a book because I thought it was too long. So, okay. Anyway, I borrowed this book from a friend and let it sit on my bedside table for a week or so before grabbing it as I was heading out the door for the airport on my way to Chicago. And guys, if you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and READ IT! I'm incredibly fascinated by the Kennedy family, and this book ultimately deals with trying to travel back in time to try and stop the JFK assassination. But more than that it deals with the idea of love and the butterfly effect and history and dancing and sappiness and do-overs and what ifs and some truly extraordinary characters. Once I really got into it I absolutely could not put it down, and though it is only my second Stephen King book, I see there being more in my future. 

Off-the-Shoulder/Cold Shoulder Tops
Sometimes I'm super on board with the big summer trend. Other times I'm not. This summer I'm 100% on board and then some. I absolutely love the off the shoulder trend that is taking over the Instagram world. Living in Houston (and honestly anywhere), summer months call for as little clothing as possible. But is still appropriate. Tank tops are always a go-to, but I'll be the first to admit that my arms are not my favorite part of my body. I'll rock shorts in the middle of December, but this off-the-shoulder and/or cold shoulder trend allows me to stay cool while not having to feel self-conscious about my upper body. It's a win-win! My favorite OTS top is this one -- only $35 from Nordstrom and it comes in so many fun summer colors! And I recently purchased a couple of OTS dresses from Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale and I can't wait for them to come in.

Dairy-Free Cupcakes
This really only helps my Chicago readers (do I even have any of you guys?), but this cupcake tasted so good that I think it's worth posting about. While on the Signature Dishes tour through Bobby's Bike Hike (which, if you are ever in Chicago, I highly recommend you do this tour -- we had a blast), we stopped for deep dish pizza, cupcakes, Chicago dogs, and beer. I was thrilled when we walked into this cute little bakery – Swirlz – and saw that there were multiple dairy-free options. For those who have a gluten intolerance, there are also gluten-free options available! I opted for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and even after telling myself I would only eat half, I ate every last crumb. And I think that's more important than the fact that the cupcake tasted delicious is the fact that I allowed myself to eat it. The entire thing. I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I let myself eat an actual dessert that wasn't a cop-out like one scoop of sorbet or a bowl of fruit or something. And you would think I would understand this by age 25, but as it turns out, I didn't gain five pounds, it didn't affect how I performed during my half marathon, and while it's not something I am going to indulge in every single day, it was a sweet reminder that I can allow myself a treat every now and again.

I know I'm incredibly behind the times here. But to be fair, I knew about Bitmoji as it was becoming popular, I just never acted on it. And the reason I finally created my Lizzie McGuire voice is because I saw other educators using Bitmoji in various Google forms, and I wanted to do the same. I'm definitely thinking of having my students create theirs so it can be used throughout the school year, but for now I'm enjoying communicating with my friends solely through Bitmoji expressions. 

Maze Dog Bowl
This one was an absolute game changer for Mack. And I actually learned about while on one of my dog-sitting assignments this summer. One of the dogs I stayed with was a Doberman, and they tend to scarf down their food in about four seconds flat. That's typically not very good for a pup's digestion, so his owner showed me her way of slowing the giant down - a Maze Bowl. My beagle is also one to just scarf down his food, cleaning his bowl in less than 30 seconds, but this particular bowl causes him to to take minutes to eat his mere half a cup of food (he's also on a slight diet, so I'm pretty sure he's always hungry). He has to actually work for his food, so I like to think that he's enjoying it a little bit more this way. These bowls come in different sizes depending on the size of your dog, and it is probably the best $9 I've spent in a while.

Have a great Friday, everyone! Make sure and do something fun and summery this weekend -- fingers crossed for sunshine here in Houston so I can get some last-minute work on my summer tan. Priorities!

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