Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Feel Sexy, Be Sexy

Some days are easier than others. There are days when you feel hot. The jeans fit just right. The dress hugs in just the right places. You matched your bra and panties...and they're pretty. You feel great and you carry yourself with a subtle swagger in your step.

You're sexy and you know it.  

But then there are those days when you're rockin' the granny panties. You're bloated. Nothing fits right, and you look in the mirror and think, ugh! 

Sexy? Not so much. 

Few people feel sexy all the time, but feeling sexy and believing we're sexy closes the deal. If you think you're sexy, and you feel sexy, you are sexy. End of story. Own it. 

If you have ever seen the movie, Eat, Pray, Love, you must remember this scene...

Elizabeth is spot on. Why are we worried about how something looks, or whether it jiggles? Shouldn't we focus more on how something feels, how to mix up the routine, and how to bring new levels of pleasure to ourselves and our partner?

As a woman with more years of self doubt than I care to admit, I know that old habits die hard. But as a wife, if I cannot trust that this amazing man, who chose me as his life partner, his wife and lover, to love me and my imperfections, then I have a bigger problem than anything that could look funny or jiggle in the wrong way. 

Friends, trust that your partner loves you as you are. Don't let self doubt seep in like water and sink your sexy ship. 

Get yourself some pretty things, or nothing at all, and rock your inner sex goddess. 

Think sexy, be sexy. And have fun!

What do you think? Is sexiness mind over matter? 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ice Castles at Loon Mountain...a Winter Wonderland Date Night

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of winter. I think snow is beautiful in pictures, but the multiple layers of warm clothing, the treacherous driving and walking, and the perpetual snow clean-up has me pining for more temperate places to call home. 

Nevertheless, I try to find something fun to do in the long New England winter, and this fit the bill. Ice Castles, at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire's White Mountains, was the setting for a very fun weekend away with friends. 

Between the picturesque main street  and the onset of another snowy evening, Mother Nature helped to set the scene for a New England winter wonderland. 

Dinner and laughs first. 

Ice Castles are a collection of ice caves, sculptures, archways and tunnels made of snow and ice. Colored lights are embedded within each piece and flicker on and off, set to music, such as songs popular from movies, like Frozen. 

The idea for Ice Castles was born from the mind of a dad who built an ice rink in his back yard, after moving his family from sunny California to snowy Utah. The rink evolved to include a slide, cave and tower that his children called the Ice Castle. Ice Castles have two New England locations at Loon and Stratton Mountains, as well as one in Minnesota and one in Utah.  

The displays are built by fusing icicles together. There is no internal sub structure within the ice. They create a lattice and spray it with water to solidify, thicken, and grow each piece. 

My throne...

Wait...are we taking a selfie or is someone else taking it? Who knows?

For this weekend anyway, winter wasn't so bad. We shared plenty of laughs, good drinks and good food. And we took in the sites of the White Mountains' version of a winter wonderland. 

The view from our hotel room.

We made our fair share of memories with great friends...memories that will last long after the ice of these castles melts away. 

Have you been to Ice Castles, or something similar? If you live in a place where you experience a cold, snowy winter, how do you pass the time?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Day in the Life...School Edition

Just this week, Kerry, a lifestyle blogger from Till Then, Smile Often and Kaelene, a travel blogger from Unlocking Kiki, posted an overview of their days and they provided an interesting peek into their daily routines. 

Thinking this sounded like a fun post, I started thinking about my own routines and what an average working day looks like in my life. 

5:00-6:00...Wake up time. I don't set an alarm, but my husband does. Most often, I wake up on my own, but just in case I oversleep, his alarm will get me going.

6:00-6:45...I go downstairs, take my vitamins with some Trop 50 and make my husband's lunch. I hard boil some eggs for the day or for the week and I drink a bottle of water. Then, I get my coffee. I check social media, watch the news, read new posts from some of my favorite bloggers and post in my wellness challenge groups. 

6:45-7:10...I make my husband's and my morning Shakeology and have breakfast with him before he leaves for work. My mother-in-law comes downstairs and we catch up before we all go in our own directions. 

7:15-7:45...After he leaves, I go back upstairs to shower and get ready for work. 

8:15-9:15...I get settled into my classroom, check my work email, drink another bottle of water, and make sure everything is all set for my kindergarten ESL students that will be arriving in a very short time. I also touch base with my team and twice a week, meet with  general education teachers or our literacy coach for collaborative planning or training.

9:30-11:10...After my kinders' Morning Meeting, I take them with me to my classroom for English Language Development and Literacy. During this time, we work on letter and sound correspondence, vocabulary development and word work, and interactive writing and reading. 

Many of my kinders are in school for the first time and a few of them are non-English speakers, so teaching them English while teaching them their grade level standards is a challenge. They learn quickly and as a second language learner myself, I am inspired by their ability to successfully navigate between two languages all day. How frustrating it must be for a child to go someplace new, away from their family and comfort, to where few, if any, understand you. But the gains they make will open their world. 

11:10-11:40...Lunch with my 2nd grade team. I check my email, respond to challenge group notifications and catch up.

11:40-1:10...2nd grade reading. During this time, I push into classrooms and support English Language Learners during their reading time. We use a program called The Daily 5, and students see real gains in their reading and comprehension. They also see incredible gains in stamina and independence and, since choice is a cornerstone of this program, students develop an early love of reading. 

1:10=1:55...2nd grade writing. Depending on the unit of study, I may push in, bringing other ELLs from another room and support students in their writing within the general education classroom. Or I may pull a group of ELL students to my room and teach them in a smaller group. 

1:55-2:40...Kindergarten writing. During this time, I teach a small group within a general education classroom. My kinder ELLs work on the same standards as their native speaker peers. For the first part of the year, the emphasis was on story telling...making sure their pictures match their words and that their pictures all had a who, a where, and a what. They also learned how to begin sentences with capital letter and end sentences with punctuation. Now, we're working with informational text and how-to's.

2:45-3:45...Prep. At this time, I write lesson plans, make copies, look for additional resources and go to meetings. If it's my on-week, I have bus duty, corralling kids from late buses into the cafeteria. On the way home, I usually call my mom and chat with her for a few minutes and reconnect. 

4:00-8:30...During this time, I am heading to the gym or pressing play on a workout video,  doing some school work, stopping by the grocery store, checking my social media feeds, challenge groups, and blogs, and prepping dinner. My husband gets home and we have eat and reconnect. We watch the news from Spain and then I head upstairs. 

8:30-9:30...Pajamas, a bit of reflection, and a book or some tv. At this time, I am calling it a night. 

When I'm not in school, it's like a different life. 

What do your days look like? Are you a creature of habit? What is the highlight of your day?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Exploring Galicia: Carnota and the Largest Hórreo in the World

Last summer, after an afternoon with cousins and friends, we went to explore a park in Carnota said to have the largest hórreo in the world. 

A hórreo is a granary ubiquitous in Galicia and northern Spain. Hórreos are made of wood or stone and stand on pillars to avoid animals contaminating the stored food.

This particular hórreo was begun in 1768 and was then enlarged in 1783. The slits on the walls allow for ventilation. 

The property also includes a church and parish cemetery. 

When I first went to Spain, I was surprised by the cemetery layout and the "cubbies" that contain the deceased. My husband told me that the cemeteries are similar in South America, but they unique to me. 

Carnota is also known for its beach, the longest in Galicia, at almost 5 miles (7 km). The water is said to be a bit warmer than that at the northern beaches and in 2007, the beach was noted the second best in the world. 

Not the best beach shot, but I do love the look of this sky 

Where is your favorite beach? What do you love about it?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love Thyself on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is all about love. 

Regardless of marital status, all of us are in a relationship with ourselves. 

And if we are not kind with ourselves and show ourselves the love, how can we show love to others?

Beginning today, Valentine's Day, show yourself the love by celebrating who you are and the joy youbring to others. Cheers to you! 

Here are 10 ideas to try, to pin for later, and to share.

1. Pamper yourself. Score yourself a Groupon and schedule a massage or go for a blow-out. You'll feel fabulous and you'll look like a million bucks. 

2. Go for a pedi and go shopping for some cute flip-flops or sandals. Even if you're up to your eyelashes in snow, like me, a pair of new shoes does the heart good.

3. GNO or GNI. Call your girl friends and schedule a night out or have the ladies over for a night in. Even in blissfully happy and satisfying relationships, a girl needs time with her ladies. 

4. Do yourself a favor...if you're not in a relationship (or even if you are, but don't like to be alone) remember this...

5. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers or a flowering plant that you can enjoy and will brighten up your home or office. Check out your local supermarket or Trader Joe's for deals on cut bouquets, or your local garden shop for the potted variety.

6. Pajama day. If your stress has been on overdrive, take a day for yourself. Disconnect from social media, snuggle up with a blanket in your favorite pajamas, and binge on Netflix, or your favorite movies or DVR'd programs. Plan ahead and prep your favorite meal. Or better yet, find a great slow cooker recipe and let the crock pot make the magic. 

7. Arts and Crafts with a twist. Make a vision board. Explore your dreams and goals. Then go a step further. Pick one goal and create a step-by-step action plan to achieve it.

8. Explore a new workout. Salsa? Yoga? Aeriel arts? Belly dancing?  Pole dancing? Improv? See what's being offered through community education and don't forget to check Groupon. You may find something you love and you'll be stronger and heart-healthier. Another win-win.

9. Pay it forward. Is there an organization that you believe is doing good work? Pledge to volunteer. Whether it's an hour a week or an hour in total, you both win.

10. Create a Happy play list. What music makes you want to dance whenever you hear it? What songs make you smile when you think of them? Make yourself a play list of these treasured favorites and make it a go-to for when life is getting you down. 

Show yourself a little love. Be kind to yourself. You are worth it. 

Happy Valentine's Day. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Valentine's Day Playlist

Valentine's Day is over the top. Then again, what holiday isn't these days? 

But I do love love. And I love to show love. 

And I love a good love song. 

We are staying in for Valentine's Day and we will be cooking. And it seems like a great opportunity to create a fun, romantic playlist to serve as the soundtrack for our date night in. 

Here are some of the songs that make the cut. 

You can listen on Spotify here

A World with You...Jason Mraz

Life is Better with You...Michael Franti

You and Me...Dave Matthews Band

You are the Best Thing...Ray LaMontagne

Till Kingdom Come...Coldplay

Come Away with Me...Norah Jones

By Your Side...Sade

You and Me...You+Me

What are your favorite love songs?

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine's Day on a Budget

This morning, my sweet husband asked me about our plans for Valentine's Day, or more specifically, whether we had any, and if we did not, what was it that I wanted to do. 

I probably gave him the answer that many men want, but one that they may or may not suggest themselves.

"Let's stay in," I said. 

The eyebrow went up and he was quiet for a moment, only to be reassured when he heard my reasoning. 

For starters, he has been teaching a class on Saturdays for the last six weeks, so we have been playing catch up on weekends. Also, we're going away with friends next weekend, so a romantic night in sounds great. 

Valentine's Day may be a Hallmark holiday, but nevertheless, it is the perfect day to show a little love. 

Luckily, love doesn't have to break the bank. 

Also, in keeping it low key, you focus on the one you love, without having to buy into the commercial nonsense that dilutes the magic of the night. 

And when it comes down to it, isn't it better canoodling with your plus one at home, rather than waiting for a rushed, overpriced, pre-fixe, and perhaps, mediocre meal at an overcrowded bar or restaurant?

Here are some ways to celebrate the love of Valentine's Day and keep to your spending goals at the same time.

1. Set the tone. Put a note in his lunch...romantic or naughty and inviting. Give him a clue as to what's to come. 

2. Flirt throughout the day. Send a text, loving or suggestive. Build the excitement and carry it throughout the day.

3. Stay in. We make homemade pizza and open a bottle of wine. He makes the pizza and opens the wine and I, well, I sip the wine, dig out the supplies and occasionally flick a little flour around to start a little trouble. 

Markup on drinks average 300-400%. Why not stay in with a bottle of your own wine, some food to get you through the night, and a little Diana Krall or Chris Botti on Pandora? You set the stage. You control the ingredients.  You make the magic.

And, if you're not lucky enough to have a working fireplace in your home, you can always channel your own via Neflix...seriously. 

The cozy view courtesy of Netflix

4. Celebrate with friends. Couples' night or Girls' Night In...have people over and celebrate with tapas and sangria, or whatever flavor palate suits your fancy. 

5. Borrow from his closet. I don't know if it's in their DNA, but guys... or at least my guy... loves the idea of me donning one of his shirts. Who needs expensive lingerie? Try the work shirt. Or a tie and're good to go. A win-win.

Can you go out and break the bank with reservations at a fancy restaurant, drinks at a trendy bar, flowers to decorate your home or office, and gifts to mark the day? Absolutely. 

But, if you're on a plan to eliminate debt or grow your savings, or if you simply prefer to have your beloved to yourself, and not share among the throngs of others celebrating among you, then a romantic night in may be just the thing.

It's good for the wallet, it's good for the heart, and if you play your cards right, it's good for the body. 


What are some of your romantic, low-budget date night ideas?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Noodleless Lasagna...It's #whatsfordinner

My husband has been doing a great job on the 21 Day Fix; in fact, he lost five pounds in his first week!

Getting to our healthiest selves is important to us, so I want to do whatever it takes to make the journey more fun. 

One way I am pushing outside the box is in finding ways to make comfort food more 21-Day friendly. 

I used thinly sliced eggplant instead of pasta in my lasagna. The eggplant was firm enough to hold up to the meat sauce and ricotta. 

It turned out better than I expected. We will have this one again. 

Noodleless Lasagna

2 medium sized eggplants, peeled and sliced thinly on the long end
1 pound ground beef...I used 93% lean and drained the fat before adding sauce.
1 medium onion, diced, minced or julienned
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 container part skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs,  beaten
8oz. shredded mozzarella blend cheese
Baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian seasoning to taste

  • Preheat your oven to 350.
  • Brown the ground beef with the onion until the onion is cooked.
  • Add Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the spaghetti sauce and let it simmer while you prep the rest.
  • Peel and slice the eggplant. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Spread some sauce on the bottom of a lasagna-suitable baking dish.
  • Add a layer of eggplant, covering the bottom. 
  • Spread leaves of baby spinach on top of the eggplant.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta and beaten egg. 
  • Add the ricotta mixture on top of the eggplant and spinach layer. 
  • Add another eggplant layer. 
  • Add half of the meat sauce. 
  • Add another eggplant later. 
  • Add the rest of the meat sauce.
  • Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, or until the cheese on top has browned. 


Have you ever reworked a recipe to make it healthier or more diet-specific, like Paleo or vegan? What did you do? How did it work?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday 5: My Movie and TV Pals

Thanks to Steph, from Life According to Steph, for this fun idea. 

We all have our favorite movies and tv shows...characters that are forever etched in our minds and hearts for their humor, their grit, or their knack for getting in or out of the most ridiculous situations known to man. 

Here are my picks for the characters that I will never forget. 

From the big screen...

1. Quint from Jaws

2. Guido from Life is Beautiful

3.  K-K-K-Katie from The Way We Were

4. Tony Montana from Scarface

5. Mona Lisa Vito from My Cousin Vinny

And my favorites from the small screen... 

1. Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie
2. Dorothy Zbornak from The Golden Girls

3. Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City
4. Dr. Carter from ER
5. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory

These are some of my favorite characters from film and screen. Who are your favorites?