Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day- Feb. Recap/March Goals

I was so happy to see all your enthusiasm for the I Love Boston project! I know that will give me the motivation I need to explore, explore, explore.

On another note, Happy Leap Day! Random fun fact: leap year kids born the same year as me turned 7 years old today :) I wouldn't mind being 7 years old again... just sayin'

Tomorrow marks the first day of March (aka probably my least favorite month of the year, but let's pretend not) which means recap of the February goals and some new goals for March. The highlight of February was definitely my trip to Sedona, which I think I have told you enough about, so I'll skip the highlights this month.

February Goals Recap

1. Continue to run outside at least once per week. Check. This month I ran outside six times. I actually did not end up running Sedona just because I didn't have a lot of spare time, but I obviously got in a good amount of hiking. I made up for the lack of run that week by running extra other weeks, which I think counts.

2. Read 4 books. Sadly, no. I was not awesome at the reading this month which is very unlike me especially on a vacation month. All I read so far was Rebecca, 7th Month (which was a REALLY short book that maybe does not even count, yikes) and Catch Me. I'm in the middle of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but I am not loving it so it's taking me longer than it should- plus I am full of excuses not to read this week because work is crazy. Oh well, I'll try again next month.

3. Buff up Summer 2012 Fund. Check. Wahoo! I saved a significant amount of money every single week this month except last week while on vacation (which was part of my plan, I can't really save money while on vacation for obvious reasons and because I lose tutoring money that week). Yay for a fun summer!

4. Blog three times per week, maybe more. Sadly, no. This will be my 11th time blogging this month, which doesn't really average out to 3 times per week- although now that I think about it, it's not far off. I tried at least!

5. Make frozen yogurt with my ice cream maker. Very sadly, no. I just didn't get around to do doing this... I did get some frozen yogurt twice this month, so it wasn't all bad.

March Goals

1. Run, spin and swim one time per week. Guess who is re-joining her gym? This girl! I canceled my gym membership almost two years ago now in favor of outside/treadmill running and walking, boot camp, and other random fitness endeavors. But you know me, I always need to change it up, so I'm ready to head back to the gym for awhile. Plus my gym lowered membership rates, thank you terrible economy- very occasionally you are in my favor. I definitely want to pick up swimming again and depending on my knees' opinion I would like to go to an occasional spin class as well. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

2. Read 4 books. I just have to get through this book first... ugh! I am really looking forward to our Blogger Book Club choice this month, Violets of March.

3. Do 3 fun things around Boston as part of the I Love Boston Project. I know I said once every 2 weeks, but might as well start on a high note right? This actually might be a challenge because I have 2 baby showers, 1 bridal shower and 1 engagement party this month. Busy, busy!

4. Get my passport for Canada this summer. Someone has not yet changed her name on her passport... that someone is me. I got my picture taken, which was an event in itself. Did you know you are not allowed to show teeth when you smile on a passport photo anymore? I look like a freak when I smile with no teeth.

5. Make two new recipes. Truth be told, I do not remember the last time I tried a new recipe. Eric has been doing most of the cooking around these parts, and even when I do cook I'm going to same old recipes. Pinterest has helped me expand recipe ideas, so I need to hurry up and try some of them. I'm going to aim low- two recipes, I should be able to handle that! Maybe I should've done one...

Do you have any new goals for March? Do you feel the need to change up your workout routine frequently? I think I have exercise ADD!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Love Boston Project

I think you guys know I love travel, right? Ha ha. I'm having one of those moments though where I realize that I cannot live from one trip to the next. So I think, what do I really love about traveling? I really love planning fun things to do, doing fun things, exploring new places and most importantly I love spending time with whoever I am traveling with. Why can't I do these things now... when it's not vacation, even maybe when it's not a weekend... whoa, a school night? Seriously, I need to always remind myself to appreciate the smaller moments in life.

Enter: The I Love Boston Project. To complete this project, I will do at least one fun activity with someone I love (or at least like a lot) every two weeks and blog about it. Hopefully I'll do it even more, but I do want to make it realistic. There is no specific end date to this project but I'd like to keep it going at least through the summer. Of course the main purpose of this goal is for me to spend quality time with the lovely people in my life, but I also hope I give you guys some good ideas of things you may want to do if you ever visit me in Boston, or maybe even give you an idea of something you could do in your own city. So for that, I hope you join me and enjoy!


Here are some of the things I have in mind:

Hiking and Walking. I think I mentioned the other day, I really, really want to do some hiking around Boston. Please make sure I start this, soon. I also really want to do at least part of the Boston HarborWalk.

Brunch and Dinners. I never need to be convinced to visit new restaurants. One thing I really want to do is a trip to the top of the Prudential to eat at Top of the Hub but the question is will I eat brunch or dinner... tough decisions!

Breweries and Wineries. Can you believe I still have never visited Sam Adam's Brewery?

Shows and Sporting Events. Did you know Chicago's Second City is coming to Boston in March? Awesome. Plus you know I love my Boston sports. In fact, I think a college hockey game might be first on my list this weekend!

Road Trips. Yes, I know I said Boston, but forgive me if I sometimes extend it to short trips from Boston. I'd really like to see the Portland Maine Lighthouse. As usual, I'll use the term "Boston" liberally to mean anything you can reasonably get to from Boston.

How do you always make sure to appreciate the ordinary days and not live from one vacation to the next?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Goodbye Sedona, Hello Real World

It's been a super productive weekend over here. I'm so glad I gave myself the whole weekend when I got home, that has made the fact that the upcoming week is going to be really busy a whole lot easier. Yesterday Eric and I had a pretty funny adventure at Babies R Us. I dragged him there because I have 2 baby showers coming up, one is for one of his friends so I figured that was allowed. I figured it would be like wedding registries: stroll in, print the registry, find the stuff, buy it. Oh, no, no. The strolling in and printing was okay, but I could not find ONE SINGLE THING on the registry. Seriously, we tried- but we were massively overwhelmed as neither of us has any clue about baby stuff. It's going to be scary when we have kids. Oh well... after 20 minutes, we gave up, left the store with nothing and I'm going to go back to my original plan to buy online. The only reason I went to the store is because it did not like that I was buying off of two different registries online, but I'll have to solve that some other way!

Anyway! I've spent today trying to get reorganized for work. It's parent conferences this week, so I need to be super organized. I did all my prep for conferences this morning, but I still need to plan what I'm going to do with the actual kids during the week.

Since I'm clearly WAY out of vacation mode I better finish recapping the trip... Wednesday and Thursday! We started to lose steam for the crazy touring by these days, so I have less to report but they were both great days too. Wednesday we visited Montezuma's Castle and Jerome. Jerome is a city built into the side of a mountain, just driving to it is crazy but the view from the town is well worth it!


In Jermone, we visited 2 wineries and an old western saloon. We also visited a couple of shops and a picked up a little present for Caroline.


On Thursday, we met up with my cousin Kristen and her husband who happened to be in Sedona at the same time as us! We did probably my favorite Sedona hike called Devil's Bridge. Last year Eric and I did not have a 4 wheel drive vehicle so we had to walk pretty far down the road leading to the hike, this year we had a big car so we were able to do it a lot quicker. The road part itself was definitely an adventure! The hike is only about 2 miles, but you get rewarded with a really cool "bridge" at the end...



Like everywhere in Sedona, the views are amazing...


It's always so hard to leave Sedona, I feel like there are endless things I could do, no time is ever long enough. I am glad we got to spend another week there, and show Eric's family how much we love the place. I now know that I'll definitely be back! I just don't know when yet. Time to start focusing on Summer Trip 2012- Seattle/Vancouver :)

Do you have a home away from home that you love to visit? For me that place is Cape Cod, but Sedona is becoming a close second! Do you have any trips coming up? If you don't enjoy talking about trips as much as I do, what was the best part of your weekend?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hiking Those Redrocks

I'm home! I had high hopes for my Saturday morning: sleeping late because I'm still on Arizona time, going to the Saturday hours at my doctor's office to get a couple of tests I need to be fasting for (nothing bad, I've had high liver enzymes for awhile so my doctor is just monitoring it basically) and cleaning up the house. Well, the sun shining in at 7:00 crashed away my hopes of sleeping late and I woke up feeling like I got run over by a plane... or maybe just like I was in a car and on a plane all day yesterday. I figured if I feel like butt my blood tests would probably look terrible and suddenly I'd have even more issues to deal with, so I'll just wait until tomorrow for that. Yes, this office is open on Sunday morning too... AMAZING. And it's near Pinkberry, which conveniently opens at 10am. Life is good.

Since I'm up and trying to catch up on the 96% full DVR, I figure I should blog more about the trip! After our day trip up to the Grand Canyon, we decided to spend some quality time in Sedona on Tuesday. We started with a morning hike up Cathedral Rock. This is one of my favorite Sedona hikes and I would probably do it weekly if I lived there. It's short, but steep so you really feel like you accomplished something. In Eric's family, when you accomplish something, a beer toast is involved...



The view from the top is a pretty good reward also...



Cathedral Rock is a bit of a steep hike and there was some worry from our crew that the way down would be a huge challenge, but it's really not so bad. If you are ever in Sedona, you have to do this hike. That is all.

Another must-do in Sedona is a Pink Jeep tour. We recommend the Broken Arrow Tour, which Eric and I have now done three times! Every time we go, we learn new interesting info about Sedona and this time our tour guide was a photography expert as well, what more could I ask for? She was probably one of the only people I've handed my camera to who was not immediately overwhelmed. Let the photo shots begin...





I probably should've left all the photography up to our fabulous guide Ray, because when I tried to get a jumping shot of Eric, he ended up landing on some uneven ground and bruising his heel.


Actually, judging by this picture it's kind of lucky all he hurt was his heel... I should not be trusted with a camera.

I swear we were actually in a jeep for some of the adventure:


Sedona is the best place ever. Really. I always come back from these trips all psyched up about hiking and then I just NEVER do it at home. This year will not be like that. I WILL do some awesome Boston hikes this year. Hold me to it.

I'll be back tomorrow with the recap of the last two days of our trip! We visited a cool town built into the side of a mountain and we went on my top favorite Sedona hike. Wahoo :) Let's hope I am super productive until then!

Do you do any hiking near your home? Where is your favorite place to hike?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Grand Canyon Photoshoot

Monday of vacation is a bit different than Monday of a work week. This Monday we decided to do a day trip to the Grand Canyon, which is about 2 hours from Sedona. If you are a longtime reader of the blog, you may remember that Eric and I have visited the Grand Canyon before, and we actually left early in favor of more time in Sedona. I think the Grand Canyon is absolutely something everyone should see once. Pictures do not do it justice, you just cannot fathom really HOW big the Grand Canyon is until you see it. That being said, I'm still a Sedona girl at heart.








Small view of the Painted Desert in the distance...


Tell me about some of the natural wonders you have seen- I know there are many others I need to see. Let's hear 'em :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sedona Sunrise

If only life could be vacation...

About 2 1/2 years ago, Eric and I decided we really wanted to go away in February, and flights to Florida were too expensive, so we thought we'd give Arizona a try. I posted on my blog that we were going to visit Phoenix, and check out the Grand Canyon. Many great blog friends told me that we HAD to visit Sedona along the way, so we did it. Well, it ended up being our favorite place maybe ever and now this is our third February in a row spent in Sedona. This year we decided to bring Eric's family and it was our Christmas present to each other.

We've had two full days here already and they have been jam packed with stuff, so I will probably just write about one today. On our first full day in Arizona I got to see the sunrise (Boston time + Arizona not doing daylight savings)...


Later in the morning, we headed out to do a hike. The trail was one Eric and I had never tried called Little ________. It was a pretty easy hike but we were able to see a lot of the more famous sights including the Three Sisters, The Chapel built into the rocks and Bell Rock.




Later in the day the real adventure began, my second ever helicopter ride!


I used to be afraid of helicopters but now I think they are my new favorite way to see a place. Also, our pilot this time had my full trust- he used to fly helicopters in Afghanistan for 6 years, I'm sure he can handle some slightly crazy weather in Sedona and a few red rocks in his way :)


It was cool too because we were able to see areas that people can't or don't hike and therefore see some cool ruins...


And a cool view of Sedona High School on the way back to the airport...


The Sedona airport is located up on top of a mesa, so on the way down we even saw a rainbow!


For dinner, we headed to a restaurant recommended to us by the rental car shuttle driver in Phoenix and then again by one of my friends from work. It was called Cowboy Club and they have the famous cactus fries, which are actually really good! We ordered a bunch of appetizers and shared with the table which I think was the way to go since the appetizers were great, especially the chicken tortilla soup and the chips and salsa.

I'll be back whenever I can get another minute with our epic day trip up to the Grand Canyon!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Get it done.

Last week was a weird one at work. I was stressed to the max but I never seemed to really be moving in the forward direction. I had high hopes for productivity, but stuff just kept getting in the way. I went home every night defeated. Friday morning was the most ridiculous. I got to work early and shit hit the fan in all directions and I spent the rest of the morning until the kids arrived hiding in my friend's classroom. This week is going to be different.



How will I make sure this week is super productive?

1. Make a To Do list every morning for both work and home. Not allow myself to be distracted by anything until the list is complete. Last week there was no list. That was the fatal flaw.

2. Schedule exercise. Last week I ran on Sunday, and then didn't exercise again until Thursday. This does not work for my body or mind. Exercise will be on the list.

3. Take my vitamins. Everyone around me is sick and I REFUSE to spend another vacation sick. If I get sick next week it will be my third vacation in a row that I spend sick. Unacceptable.

4. Keep my eyes on the prize. Absolutely MUST get stuff done this week or I will not have fun on vacation because it will have to be done then. Unacceptable.

How do you keep yourself on track when you know you need to GET STUFF DONE?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wine and Love- Full Moon Edition

I think most teachers out there know how kids are during the full moon. By that I mean, miserable. Actually I can't even blame the kiddos for the crazy week. I mean there was some out of character behavior, mostly a bit of crying from my tough guys, but mainly it was just me who was OFF all week. Stressed, but just not as productive as I normally am. Hopefully that is going to change tomorrow, and 100% next week because I have a lot to do before Sedona. Also I went for a run on Sunday, and then didn't have a chance to work out again until today. That's a bit too long for me... maybe that's why I've been so unproductive. Interesting.


Thanks to Nora for bringing Wine and Love to our lives.


Well I should start by saying that last week I ACTUALLY grabbed the bottle of wine on Tuesday night, and that didn't happen this week, so I guess that is a step in the right direction, no?

1. Okay, maybe this is a whole post topic, but sometimes I find myself (especially at work) having to basically "put my foot down" on something that I may have been inclined to be more flexible about because I don't want someone to take advantage of me. For example, this happens with kids all the time. I don't really mind if 1 child whispers to his or her partner when I am talking, but if I let them get away with it, no one will ever listen to me again. What annoys me though is when this translates to adult relationships. I know I'm a pretty flexible person and I think sometimes people take advantage of that and assume I will be the one who bends. I hate that I sometimes have to be like NO in order for people to listen.

2. I hate homework. I truly think it should be banned from elementary school entirely. I know some children need the extra practice in order to fully "get it" but I think almost all children would benefit from more time to explore other interests or maybe just freaking relax once in awhile. I don't assign homework in kindergarten so you may think this does not apply to me. However, one of my tutoring kiddos has spelling homework we do together every Tuesday. The past couple of weeks it has been serious torture, for both of us. This week is was so bad that I actually stopped at the grocery store on the way home for ice cream. True story.

3. The Super Bowl did not go my way. I'm really not a huge football person, but many people in my life are. Also, I don't know if I can explain it to people who are not from Boston, but there is just something about New York for us... Don't get me wrong, I enjoy New York City, and don't know enough about the rest of the state to make a judgment. But it just always feels like Boston is the underdog to New York in life (though they weren't supposedly in that game). I can only speak for myself to say this, but I'd rather lose to anyone but New York. Maybe you guys have your own cities/states that you feel this way about...



1. I really love my photo class. I'll probably continue to write about my experiments and what I'm learning, even though not too many people felt the need to comment on it :)

2. I love our Blogger Book Club. It has forced me to read so many books I never would've picked up on my own, and 90% of the time I end up liking them so much more than I thought I would. I finished Rebecca today, and I have no idea how many starts to give it. I liked the story line, though I think the beginning could've moved much faster. On the other hand, I absolutely hated the writing style.

3. This year I said no to the ridiculousness of the 100th day of school. Usually it's a crazy big deal with parent volunteers and crazy amounts of prep and crazy kids. This year, we made awesome crowns I found on pinterest and I let the kids count 100 Legos and play with them. That's it. The kids had a great day and so did I. Win for everyone. I plan for Valentine's Day to be equally low key, though I should probably consider actually making or buying valentines...

Let it out- what are your wines and loves this week?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Photography Experiments #1

As you may remember, last summer I bought myself a DSLR camera. Since then I have let the camera do most of my work, either on automatic or on the sports mode that allows for my ever popular jumping shots. Last Thursday I took the first step towards knowing what the heck I am up to with this camera by starting a photography class with my friend Sarah.

The first class we talked about the 3 elements of exposure...

Shutter Speed: controls the amount of time the light is let in

Aperture: controls the size of the opening the light is coming in

ISO: controls the sensitivity to light

We also learned about something called bracketing, in which you can basically take 3 pictures at the same time where the camera will vary either the shutter speed, aperture or ISO. You can set exactly which thing you want to vary, and by how much. This is great because it allows for a little wiggle room. If you are a beginner like me, you might think you have the settings perfect but then when you take the photo, it's just a little off. With bracketing, you have 3 pictures so you can choose your favorite. I also think it's a cool way to see the affects that changing just 1 thing has.

Yesterday I headed outside to see if I could put some of what I learned to the test, so to speak :) Here are my experiments with bracketing:

Take 1- shutter 1/125, aperture f13.0, ISO 100


Take 2- shutter 1/125, aperture f18.0, ISO 100


Take 3- shutter 1/125, aperture f9.0, ISO 100


The first picture above is the middle aperture, and then in the second picture the opening was smaller, and in the third, the opening larger. Cool, huh? I like the first one the best, but I like the water color in the second one as well.

I also played with some bracketing on the shutter speed.

Take 1: shutter 1/640, aperture f5.6, ISO 100


Take 2: shutter 1/1250, aperture f5.6, ISO 100


Take 3: shutter 1/320, aperture f5.6, ISO 100


I'm only just starting to understand when/why I want to vary the shutter speed or aperture, but I do know that faster shutter speed will help me take those jumping shots, kids that don't sit still, and swimming ducks, which was the case on yesterday...


I could also slow the shutter speed if I want to blur movement, but I haven't tried that yet. As for the aperture, I was trying to use a low aperture to blur the background of my photos... I don't know, do you guys think it worked?


Ignore the weird shadows and the fact that Eric looks like he may want to kill me. Surprisingly he was not that annoyed with my random photo shoot so I'm not sure why it looks like he is :) We will just pretend this was after the Superbowl and that's why he looks so unimpressed.

Anyway, let's for letting me show off my experiments. There may be more of these to come :) I'll try to at least find new places so you won't get too bored of ducks and swans!

Do you find photography interesting to learn about? If not, tell me about one random hobby you have...

Disclaimer: I am a huge beginner when it comes to photography. If I ever something TOTALLY wrong in these posts, feel free to let me know!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I am a girl of many contradictions...

I love the dessert in Arizona and the oceans of Cape Cod.



I am a homebody, but if I'm at home until 3:00 on any given day I start to go a little stir crazy.

I am a morning person, but when my alarm wakes me up I groan every time. On weekends I wake up about 45 minutes later, happy as a clam.

My principal has always praised me for being prepared and organized for every lesson, yet I showed up for my first photography class on Thursday without a pen or anything to write on. Hmm, not so prepared!

I am a teacher, but I can't stand attending school myself (I think I'm burnt out).

I love my students, but the thought of my own children freaks me out.

I have endless patience for a child sounding out the word "dog" for the 36th time, but the person in front of me taking too long to order at Starbucks? MOVE IT!

I teach kindergarten but I can't stand "preschool" problems (ie. bathroom issues, crying about something ridiculous...)

I love to write but I don't think I ever want to be "a writer."

I love Boston and Cape Cod, but I love to travel more than anything else.

What are you contradictions?or What are you up to this weekend?
It's a sports weekend for me. I'm off to the Bruins Game today, and of course watching the Superbowl tomorrow :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Goals: Saving and Frozen Yogurt Eating

Just like that, it's February. I did pretty well with my January goals, so I'm going to try again in February. I'm excited about February for Eric's birthday and my third trip to Sedona! I'm also dreading other parts of the month, such as writing 22 report cards. I'm hoping wine will help me through this aspect. Maybe?

February Goals

1. Continue to run outside at least once per week. The weather has been so nice there is just no excuse for me not to continue running outside at least once a week. I already started this today when it was close to 60 degrees outside. February, what?!

2. Read 4 books. Last month I read 5 books, and this month I'll be on vacation so I was tempted to go for 5 this month, but my vacation will be with Eric's family so I'm not sure if I'll get as much reading done as I normally do. So far the only book on my list to read this month is Rebecca for our Blogger book club. Anyone have any other recommendations for me?

3. Buff up Summer 2012 savings fund. I have an ING account which means I can name my accounts. I still had not renamed my "honeymoon fund" so I just last week changed it to "Summer 2012." I don't want to be a slave to tutoring like I was last summer, and I want to be able to go to Amber's wedding in Canada so... I need to start saving more, right now. It's going to be a rough month for it because I am going away AND I will lose tutoring money that week, so I've set a goal and let's hope I can meet it.

4. Blog at least 3 times per week, maybe more. I've been a little inconsistent on the blogging recently, so I'm hoping I can keep up with it a little better this month. I also have to write report cards which is going to take a lot of typing outside of school, so I may need some extra motivation to take a break and type something I want to write about!

5. Make frozen yogurt with my ice cream maker. We all know I will do pretty much anything for frozen yogurt. On the coldest day of January I forced Eric to drive 25 minutes with me to a frozen yogurt place. Yeah, I need help. Since I got my ice cream maker I have only made ice cream ONCE. I need to make some fro yo. Soon. It might involve this recipe.

What do you hope to accomplish this month? Anything you are looking forward to?