Top Notch Summer List

First day of Summer might not actually hit until late June, but for me, it’s totally summertime, baby! I always have a summer list going of things I want to do over the break. Every year it’s a bit different but I always have staples like bake a pie, see a summer box office hit, spend some days reading for fun, watch a fireworks show and don’t forget about a good ol’ ice cream date.

I started making summer bucket lists after a few summers felt lost with work and catch-up to-do’s. Summer has always felt like a season of freedom but this crazy list lady sometimes needs a list to help her embrace that freedom with a few ideas waiting in the wings. Thus the bucket lists were born! I’ve got my personal one written but I played around writing some of my favorites on a simple list for anyone else who wants to join.

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The best part of this list and that it’s just a jump off point. Want to road trip but can’t go states away? Just the next town over might have the best donut shop ever! Go see a baseball game if you’re not into coffee shops or heck, a great bar might fit your feel better. Doesn’t matter. The point of a list is to give yourself some ideas of fun things to do that really encapsulates summer time and now’s the time to really think how you want to spend hazy crazy days of summer!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

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Back to School Hopes

Dear Fall Semester, 

It's time we meet again. I can't believe it's already back to school, but you and I both know you seem to come around too soon. It's just your nature. 

This year I'm hoping you could take into account a few hopes I have for this semester. Just mere wishes or prayers, requests for a good start to the year, positive thoughts to put out for your consideration: 

Let this be a good start to a fulfilling year for everyone who walks into a classroom. 

Let the work be meaningful, the frustrations be small, the improvements be grand and the lessons be clear. 

Let there be more cookies and surprise treats in the break room. 

Let there be happiness in the time given, the earnest of efforts made, and the process of the projects exciting. 

Let there be a lot more laughing and less griping. 

Let there be a sweet friends with an open doors to walk through. 

Let there be plenty of concealor, hair ties, and red lipstick around for when the work gets tough.

Let confidence grow from those moments of doubt. 

Let the times of victory last as long as possible. 

Let the coffee pot always be hot and the brew always be strong. 

Let the joy of what we do shine out and spill over all. 

Let there be positivity in every word we say and actual effort to do better and try harder the next time. 

Let the favorite leggings never fade and computers never crash. 

Let the inspiration from the "aha!" moments fuel us to keep going. 

Let the tap shoes be loud, the buns be high and jazz hands be strong. 

Most importantly, let us not forget how lucky we are to do what we love. 

 

Amen

Already starting the year with a laugh--can't beat that! 

Already starting the year with a laugh--can't beat that! 

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Sunny Disposition

Sunflowers have always been one of my favorite flowers. As I kid, I just thought they were the cheeriest flower that ever was and how big and beautiful! One year in a production number to "The Wiz", I got to be an actual sunflower dancer, yellow flowered hat and all. I tell you what, I really loved it! 

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Sunflowers just say summertime to me. The last two summer's we've planted a small row of them in the garden to bring in bees. Someday I'd like to plant a whole field. 

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We've enjoyed watching them blossom and grow. Picking up the dried heads, I'm hoping we can harvest the seeds for next year. So long as Penny doesn't keep eating them...

Sometimes it's the simplest thing, like a bright happy sunflower that can add a little cheer to a person's day, add a bit of positivity to your day. How can you have a bad day with a sight like this? It all reminds of a very appropriate and favorite quote: 

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It's what sunflowers do.     

Helen Keller

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Don't sweat the small stuff. Look to the good and always keep that sunny disposition! 

What flowers put you in the best of moods? 

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Think Pink

I'm in a pink mood these days. 

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And still very much into summer dresses. 

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Trying to cool down this summer in ice shades of pink with soft light fabric and flowing skirts. 

This LOFT dress is simply gorgeous. I have a marigold colored dress in similar style and it's one of my favorites. It reminds me of this Gal Meets Glam dress, soft, pink, feminine, and chic.  

I love my lavendar suede Steven Madden shoes, but these would be a lovely option, too. I love a good ankle strap and the return of the chunky heel is a nice change from the stiletto. 

Simple gold jewelry from my favorite, Nan Lee. I love her simple style, including these wire earrings. I wear these Lotus Leaf earrings quite frequently. 

Yes, I'm pretty good with my rose colored daze and think pink vibe. 

What colors are you currently crushing on?

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Summer Books

Summer reading, had me a blast! Summer reading, happens so fast!

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Okie dokie--someone got me stuck on Grease here recently and those darned songs just get stuck in your head! Not the point of the post, but summer reading actually is! My goal this summer was ten books and I'm a little bit behind. OK, I'm a lot behind! No worries, I'm sure I'll catch up and with a set time of reading for 20 minutes each night before bed, I'm sure to make it happen. So long as I don't get sucked into scrolling Insta...

"Yeah right, Mom" - Penny, My nighttime reading buddy. 

"Yeah right, Mom" - Penny, My nighttime reading buddy. 

I reached out on Facespace a while back for good recommendations to read and so many people hit me up with awesome sounding novels. I'm working my way through the list right, but here's what I've read and loved so far: 

1. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Oh. My. Gah. Wonderful read. So many moments I just did not see coming and the author did a great job of throwing me some curve balls when I thought I knew exactly what was going on. Get it. You won't regret it!

PS--Amy Adams and Julianne Moore are starring in the movie version! Just announced last week! 

We interrupt this chapter for a chin scratch.

We interrupt this chapter for a chin scratch.

2. The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Beautiful novel about three women that come together in the aftermath of WWII, becoming a new family, working through their ghosts and all that happens after. It was just an incredible read based on the author's stories from her grandmother--I read that after I finished it because you just feel like every story told is so very, very real. 

Can I help you? I'm in the middle of this story...

Can I help you? I'm in the middle of this story...

3. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Alright, it's a total young adult novel, but I still enjoyed it. I definitely got vibes of Katniss and every other female heroine in a dystopian universe that's out there lately including the love triangle. Still in all, it was a fun quick read for adventurous story. 

I use the Overdrive app to rent books from the library. I've put several on hold and when they pop up, I have a week to read them before they disappear. Needless to say I've started several and haven't finished them yet including The Wife Between Us, another suspense book I really want to finish! I'm patiently waiting my turn (again) for about four incomplete books right now...whoops! 

Just got to a good part! 

Just got to a good part! 

I'm working my way through Nightingale currently and really enjoying it, another WWII historic fiction this time about two sisters. Truly, I think historic fiction is probably one of my favorite book categories. In any case, back to reading! I've got another four books to finish after this one! 

What books are you reading this summer?  

Our little hambone, Penny. She's a sucker for those belly rubs! 

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My, My, How Can I Resist You?

Y'all. I adore music theater. I remember the first time I went to see a musical in rehearsal, my mom was helping with costumes on our local production of Camelot and I got to go up to see a rehearsal one timeI walked in through the doors of the auditorium and it was like I walked in to the most wonderful magical place on earth. Truly. There was a parade of performers singing, dancing, and all these people directing them down in front. I'd never seen anything like it in my whole life. 

I was seven at the time and every summer after I would spend most evening at the performing arts center where I was eventually dubbed a PAC Rat. It wasn't long before I got to be up on stage myself just living my best life. Those were some of the most magical summers of my life. My mom would take us the video store or library to rent musicals, too. I remember watching My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Showboat, Funny Girl, Hello Dolly and so, so many more. 

When Fosse came out, my dance teacher at the time was a huge fan. We rented Pajama Game and Damn Yankees and I did a whole research project over the man in 7th grade. My sophomore year I had to build a mole for Mole Day in Chemistry. At the time I was in A Chorus Line at another theater so naturally I worked with my costumer mother to build a mole with a replica of the infamous "One" costume. Naturally. So let's be real, I've loved me some music theater for a long time. 

Honestly, who doesn't enjoy a show where everyone breaks out into song and dance AT THE SAME TIME? I can even get my husband to see one on occasion. And speaking of seeing shows, I took myself to see Lyric Theaters Mamma Mia just this week. Oh y'all, who doesn't enjoy a little ABBA?

I was a total dancing queen in my seat the whole time! The music is so darn fun, you can't help but sing along. I was in stitches over "Mamma Mia," their Donna was a hoot! I thoroughly enjoyed Tanya during "Does You Mother Know," and my eyes were on the brink of spilling over during "Slipping Through My Fingers." Oh, it was just so good and such a fun way to spend a night.

Best part was getting to see several of my students out there just living life on stage! I tell you what, if my seven year old self knew I'd someday be working with the talent that crosses that stage, sometimes even getting to set work for musicals myself, she would be pretty dang proud. 

Next up, I guess I'm going to have to check out Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again in theaters to just round out the experience. Anyone interested in going with? 

Seriously, a riot and had me in stitches! 

Seriously, a riot and had me in stitches! 

  OK folks, name your favorite musical! Go! 

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Podcast Roundup

As much as I love listening to music or watching a good show, sometimes I need to hear something different. I found podcasts serve as a great substitute for that. Whether it's listening to a story, a bit of business advice, an interview from a neat person, or just news stories, it's something different for my ears. And my brain! 

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Alright folks, it's time for a podcast round up! Whether you're doing some road tripping, commuting to work or heck, just cleaning around the house, here are a couple of podcasts you might enjoy: 

1. Crimetown 

Oooooh, you better run from you mama now! Or so the opening song goes. This one, it's pretty dang good. So good, in fact, that Pyro Man really dug into this story. Crimetown is all about the mob out of Rhode Island and it's inner workings with the government, specifically mayor Buddy Cianci. If you like mob stories, you're going to love this one! 

2. The Daily

I like this one a lot as an every day news briefing. About 20 minutes focused on one element in world news with a few last parting things, "what else you should know today." What I like most about this New York Times podcast is that it's straight facts, some interviews, but mostly facts about what is going on and why it's important to be informed on it. Essentially, I get the 411 on my way to work every day. 

3. Up & Vanished

A documentary film maker turned detective sleuth. Seriously. And it's all true. Payne Lindsey takes you on a journey through his search to find out who killed Tara Grinstad, local Georgia teacher and former beauty queen. The whole story is riveting and something we binged on our way out to Charleston and back last year. If you like mysteries and unsolved crimes, definitely check it out if you haven't yet. 

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4. Goal Digger Podcast

Somehow I found Jenna Kutcher a couple years ago on Instagram and I was drawn to her postings. When she started a podcast for entrepreneurs, I was subscribed without hesitation. What I like about her show is a balance of talking to successful entrepreneurial woman and her own episodes offering tips and tools for business. I find her encouraging, the stories interesting, and the information helpful. Mostly, it just makes me feel inspired. 

BONUS:   How it Works  episode with  Kate Spade is one of my favorites.  

BONUS: How it Works episode with  Kate Spade is one of my favorites.  

That feels like a pretty solid group of shows right there. Trust me, i definitely dig into other ones and I'm always on the hunt for more, but these are a good start if you're looking for a change up in your radio dial. 

Alright, spill! What are some of your favorite podcasts you've been listening to lately?

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Summer Breezy Staples

It's hot ladies. And it's unfortunately going to be hot for a while. For me that means light material and nothing that constricts! I want some air flow, something cool and definitely breezy while I'm working. It's only going to get hotter so if you're in a shopping mood, try some of these: 

1. LOFT Stripped Crossover Dress

I've worn this dress out several times and it's comfy (yay knit!). Great for summer parties, farmer's market runs or just hanging out at the house. 

Plus it has this lovely cross in the back for a fun twist!

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2. Target Black Knit Dress

Found this knit number back in May and I've loved it. Style it up, casual it down, silver or gold, heels or flats, hat, no hat, hair up or down, it all looks good in a staple like this 

 

3. LOFT Romper

I have several rompers in my closet and I adore each and every one of them, but this one, oh man. This romper has been my favorite. I've worn it out for shopping around town and on a lovely date night with Pyro Man. When you got an outfit that can do both that means I can wear my sneaks or my heels--either way, I'm good to go. It's breezy, cool, and oh so freaking cute! 

If you can't tell, I really am a huge fan of LOFT. I love their style, their prices and of course, their sales. But I have been doing a little window shopping at one of my favorite stores and pined over these current crushes: 

This gorgeous red maxi from Anthropologie. Plus this fun green dress is so sweet, love the details! Tell me that this white cotton number doesn't scream summer? And then this beauty, eyelet and embroidery with sweet straps! 

What are some of your summer staples? 

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Summer Fruit Crisp

I stumbled into a really, really delicious dessert last week. I had a box of strawberries, raspberries, and some ripe white peaches left over in the fridge and I wondered how all of them would taste together in a sweet little crumble mixture. The answer: excellent! 

I haven't gone back to try it again, but it worked out well the first time sooo...might as well share! There's no time like the present, right? Plus, I can always come back and tweak the recipe a bit. Try it out and let me know how you liked it! 

Summer Fruit Crisp

 

FRUIT BASE

  • 4 ripe white peaches sliced
  • 1 1/2 - 2  cups of strawberries hulled and sliced
  • 1 cup of raspberries 
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

TOPPING

  • 6 tablespoons of room temp butter cut into small pieces(if using unsalted, add a pinch of salt to the mix)
  • 1 cup of oats 
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  1. Pre-heat over to 375. 
  2. Grease deep dish pie plate or 9" casserole dish with butter
  3. Toss fruit with sugar, arrowroot, vanilla, and lemon juice to coat well. Add to greased dish and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix all dry topping ingredients together. Then use a pie cutter to cut the butter into the mix until ingredients are well mixed and small clumps have formed. (NOTE: This makes a ton of crisp topping). 
  5. Top the fruit base with the topping mixture, spreading evenly. If it seems like a lot of crisp, hold some back or if you're really feeling it, dump it all on, baby! 
  6. Bake crisp for about 25-30 minutes until fruit is bubbling and crisp is golden brown. If you find the fruit is definitely bubbling and crisp is cooked but not golden, broil the top for about 1-2 minutes and it will finish the job beautifully. (NOTE: I placed a sheet of foil underneath the plate incase fruit bubbled over.) 
  7. Let sit for a few minutes before diving in! 

This was first go round so there are a few wonky notes, like broiling the last minute to get the crisp toasty. I know adjustments need to be made, but I enjoyed getting messy with a successful experiment in the kitchen! 

You can pair the crisp with vanilla ice cream, Blue Bell is always my preference. Or you can have it in the morning with plain, coconut or vanilla yogurt and some natural peanut butter drizzled on. It's actually a pretty wonderful way to start the day. 

Give it a try and tell me how you like it in the comments below! 

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Life Lately - Episode 3

Hello out there, you beautiful readers! 

It's July and to me that always marks the downhill of summer vacation--let's be real. Summer weather doesn't end until about November so we're stuck with it for a while, but the vacation part is ending soon. 

"I'm sorry. Vacation is coming to an end? What?!" 

"I'm sorry. Vacation is coming to an end? What?!" 

I've sent myself into warp speed prepping for my show in August and the fall semester that follows. All the to-do's never leave my brain. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was thinking about fall back in May, but now the clock is really on for me. 

All of June was spent teaching tons of camps, always a lot of fun to do with bright eyed and excited high schoolers. I even had a rambunctious and fun group of middle schoolers, too. Sometimes I forget how much energy there is packed into those little people at that age. It's astounding to see and it really is infectious and made for a couple of really fun classes. 

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We're happily growing our garden still and it's completely thriving. We've already pulled off about seven cucumbers and oh my, they are divine! My Romas are starting to turn, there are tons of Early Girls coming out, the cherry and yellow cherries are doing well and those jalapeno plants are filing in nicely. Can't wait until we can start canning! 

I follow a very, very small group of shows during the year so summer is when I feel like I can catch up and folks, I have definitely caught up. So far I've seen The Last Kingdom season 2--if you like Vikings and Game of Thrones this one is pretty good. I also caught up on Britannia which was oddly interesting. I kept going back to watch episodes even though I wasn't sure I was entirely sold on it. I've finally watched all of Will & Grace, the most current season. I'm a die hard W&G fan so I really enjoyed catching up on their new(ish) adventures. Most recently I finished Alias Grace. Oh. My. Gosh. I loved it! I'm hoping for season 2 because it was pretty riveting. With short clips in between dialogue, you had to keep watching so as not to miss anything. 

That's about it folks. My crafting projects have been slow, but I've enjoyed baking and cooking from my new Magnolia Table book. I've finished a couple books and working my way through some others. It's been work and little down time. That's what summer is for though, right? A little work and some relaxation--I can dig that. 

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