19 June 2014

Thirsty Thursday: Pineapple Mint Punch

Need an aromatic and refreshing beverage to kick-start your weekend? This week's Thirsty Thursday feature is sure to hit the spot!

For delicious sunshine-in-a-glass, simply follow the recipe below:

2 Cups Pineapple Juice
1 Cup Simple Syrup
2 Cups Tonic Water
1 Cup Rum (white or dark)
5-6 Sprigs of Fresh Mint 
1-2 Limes - sliced

Combine the first four ingredients in a pitcher and chill until ready to serve. Pour over ice, add mint leaves and lime slices for garnish. YUM! (Or, for an equally delicious non-alcoholic drink, just skip the rum!)

My husband had some Brazilian Bossa Nova music playing in the background as I prepped this treat. Imagine: sun light streaming in the windows and the enticing blend of samba and jazz streaming out! Ahhhhh, perfection!


17 June 2014

Space for Abundance

-Overflowing fullness. 
-Prosperity and a sufficiency of life's necessities.


In this crazy mixed up world of ladder-climbing and keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, the definition of abundance seems to be growing rather vague. 

What does it mean to you

I whole-heartedly believe that to cultivate abundance in life, one first needs to make some space for it.  And I'm not talking about square footage. For me, making room for abundance means being more human - caring for and giving to others, smiling more, being the kind of person that I would like to see my young son become.

Opportunities to become more charitable have presented themselves to me all year. Sometimes, I'll admit, I have had to remind myself to act on them, but it always feels good when I do. And I know each time I give - whether it's a simple smile or a small token of thanks or a donation to an amazing charity - that I've made a little more space in my metaphorical karma cottage. A little more room for abundance - the REAL kind - to come in to my life.

Wishing you a joyful and abundant day,

12 June 2014

Thirsty Thursday - Easy Iced Chai

Happy Thursday, Everyone! For this weeks bevvy, I decided to try something I found on Pinterest a while back. This vegan-friendly (I'm not vegan, but have several friends who are) drink was such a cool refreshing treat, I had to post it. Even the hubby, who rolls his eyes at my kitchen "experiments" thought it was tasty!

Pretty simple: Pour chai tea into ice cube tray and freeze. Add 4-5 chai cubes to 2 cups of sweetened or original almond milk and viola! To make it even  easier, I used pre-made sugar free Chai from Oregon Chai.

Not only is this drink dairy-free, it's also low-cal and (because I used the sugar-free chai) low carb. And it's YUMMY!

For the original recipe, check out this link to SheKnows.

Sweet vanilla almond milk with chai tea ice cubes
Bottoms up!

07 June 2014

My Summer Resolves

It's finally here! Today marks the first day of my 10-week summer vacation! I've handed over my classroom keys, dutifully packed away my lesson plan binders and bulletin board posters, and said farewell to yet another school year.

Ah, summer...you beautiful, fleeting, golden time. Greetings!

Hello to sunshine (with a wee bit of coastal fog)!
Hello to brunches and lunches and lemonade! 
Hello to boardwalks and beaches and pedicured toes! 
Hello to grilling! 
Hello to chilling! 
And most of all...Hello to ME!!

To commemorate AND celebrate this joyful occasion, I have penned out the following list of summer resolves:

1. Eat a REAL breakfast, every day.
2. Clean out my closets.
3. Purchase new undergarments.
4. Go for a walk at least 5X per week.
5. Read 10 new books.
6. Learn 5 new recipes.
7. Make photo albums of my family.
8. Take more naps.
9. Go to the Farmer's Market 
10. Blog twice a week.

Here's to all of the wonderful possibilities!

29 September 2013

Book Club Love

I had two goals for myself this weekend: paint my toenails and write a blog post.

I'm happy to report that my toenails are a lovely shade of autumn red. Goal one...check!

As for the blog post....well, that hasn't been so easy. The more I have to say, the less time I have to say it.

Maybe I'll just stick to something simple today. Every once in a while I get to do something really cool like hang out with super-smart ladies, drink wine, and talk about books.

Yep, it's Book Club!

What I dearly love about book club (besides the wine and brilliant women) is that it compels me to read things that I normally would never have chosen for myself. And sometimes I'm actually excited by what I discover.

This time around, the selection was The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. Now, I'm not a sports enthusiast. I'm actually more of a sports un-enthusiast, if truth be told. But this novel ended up being about so much more than baseball - I grew really attached to the characters and started to really worry about them toward the end.

Here is Amazon.com's description of the novel:

"At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, "The Art of Fielding is mere baseball fiction the way Moby Dick is just a fish story" (Nicholas Dawidoff). It is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others."

Pella Affenlight annoyed me, Owen Dunne delighted and amused me, and Mike Schwartz just about stole my heart. The Art of Fielding is SUCH a character-driven book, I couldn't help but love it. And my Book Club Bettys agreed: this one is a keeper!

Of course, book club is often more about getting together with friends, enjoying a delicious meal together and a glass of vino, and catching up on each other's lives than it is about the novel. But this time, at least for a little while, it was ALL about the book!

Stay tuned for our next book club selection: Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

Goal number two...check!  Many happy returns,

Today's Gratitude List:
  • Lazy Sunday mornings
  • Trail mix
  • NPR podcasts
  • Phone calls with my best friend

17 September 2013

Happy is as Happy does...

I recently showed this pie chart to my 12th grade students. It inspired a lively conversation so I'm taking the chance that it's blog-worthy too.
What makes people happy?
Well, according to research (and the lovely pie chart above), HALF of our happiness is genetic. We each have a genetic "set point" for happiness and after every event, good or bad, we tend to return to that set point. Some people have a genetically higher set point - that's just the way they're programmed. Some people (I'm sure you know a few) just have a lower set point.
Another 40% of a person's happiness depends on what's termed "Intentional Activity."  These are the actions you choose to do that make you happy. Like blogging. Or wine-tasting. Or talking a walk on the beach.  YOU have complete control over these actions -- a refreshing thought, in my opinion (and a nice counter-balance to the genetic set point).
The final 10% - the SMALLEST wedge of the pie (I was actually kind of shocked by this)- is dependent on circumstances. These include how much money you have, your perceived image, status, and popularity, where you live, work-related issues, etc.
Only 10%....but if you ask some people what it would take to make them feel happy (or successful or fulfilled in life) they might just draw their answers from that smallest piece of the pie.
So, what makes you happy? Are you intrinsically or extrinsically motivated? Which piece of the pie are you savoring today?
Here's what's making me happy right now:
Wishing you happiness too!


Today's Gratitude List:
  • Being home earlier (from work) than expected
  • Blue, blue skies
  • Swings and slides and teeter-totters
  • Stuffed porkchops for dinner tonight!

07 September 2013

Spare Time

Newbie yearbook staffer (practicing interviewing skills): So, Ms. H, what do you do in your spare time? You know, when you're not teaching?

Me: Ha ha ha  - that's funny.


Me: Oh! That was a real question?!

Spare time? What do I do when I'm not at work? Hmmmm. Well, I'd love to be able to say that "I travel extensively" or "I volunteer at local animal shelters and food banks." I'd like to say that in my spare time "I cultivate my own organic vegetables" and "I paint watercolor landscapes." Or at the very least that "I blog regularly."

I'd like to say those things. But I can't.

What do I do when I'm not at my full time teaching gig? I'm unbelievably busy at my other full time job: being Izzy's mom. Is that time considered "spare" time? Probably not. Though it is the most IMPORTANT way I spend my time, and I get more joy and more reward out of being a mommy than I ever have at any job I've ever had.  Still, it isn't "spare" time.

There really is very little time to spare, when I think about it. Nope - I cannot spare a square of it.

So where does this leave me? Is there room for just little ol' "me" in TIME?

It's difficult at best. I'm just now learning to seize the opportunities when they occur. If I get to blog once a week - awesome! If I get to read a chapter of a good book for half an hour - hooray! Even if I just get 15 minutes to browse through Pinterest - I'm stoked. I'll take these "spares" when I can get them and relish every second.

Heaven knows they are rare.

And if I'm not traveling the world right now - or saving it - that's okay. The time I have will have to do and I'll do my best to make the most of it.

Because really, who has time to spare worrying about spare time?


Today's Gratitude List:
  • Homemade oatmeal cookies
  • A little spare time to blog :)
  • Pantry full of groceries
  • My husband's big strong arms

08 August 2013

Thirsty Thursday: Breakfast Shot

It's been a busy week around the sunflower patch! I've had out of town guests to prepare for and then entertain (and feed), followed by the cleaning up that comes after the guests leave and the restocking of the greatly diminished pantry.

Super-woman that I am, I also decided to spend six hours on Tuesday cleaning up/reorganizing my classroom in preparation for the start of the upcoming new school year. Yep, summer is (sadly) almost over!

Now, Izzy and I are packing for another quick trip to see his grandparents. One last "hurrah!" before Mommy goes back to work!

And speaking of "hurrah!" - here is an incredibly fun adult beverage to introduce to people. It's a breakfast shot (or Irish breakfast shot) that my sister and I discovered at a local pub. I loved watching my friends drink this over the weekend. The layer of flavors is really quite unique. You'd swear you were eating a bit of pancake with maple syrup (almost)!

It's simple:
In one shot glass: 2 counts Jameson Whiskey + 1 count Butterscotch Schnapps + slice of bacon
In a second (chaser) shot glass: orange juice.

Bon appetite!

01 August 2013

Thirsty Thursday: Horchata

For some strange reason, this week prompted me to take a stroll down memory lane. My first encounter with the delicious chilled rice and cinnamon beverage known as Horchata  was during a “fiesta” in my Spanish I class as a wee high school lass, many (many, many) moons ago. I loved it instantly and have had it several times since, but I’ve never tried making my own. Until now! Thanks to a recipe I found here, I was able to reproduce this cool treat relatively easily, with ingredients that were simple enough to procure from my own cupboards.
·                     1 cup long grain white rice, rinsed
·                     4 cups water
·                     2 cinnamon sticks
·                     1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
·                     1 cup skim milk
·                     1/3 cup brown sugar, plus 2-3 Tbsp to taste
·                     1 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
·                     Ice
1.      Wash and drain rice. Combine rice with cinnamon sticks in water and soak overnight in the refrigerator.
2.      After the rice has soaked for at least 8-10 hours, preferably overnight, discard the cinnamon sticks and pour rice and water into a blender. Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and blend on low for 2-3 minutes until well blended. Pour blended rice mixture through fine mesh sieve two times and then through cheesecloth one more time to remove all gritty bits of rice.
3.      Pour strained mixture into a pitcher, add skim milk, brown sugar and vanilla and stir well to combine. Add more sugar if needed, to taste.  Best served with ice & a dash of ground cinnamon. 
Hope you enjoy!

28 July 2013


For the first time in a long time, since childhood really, I actually know my neighbors.

Well, I know five of them, which I think is a good start and quite the social record for me.

And when I say know them, I mean I know their names, their kids’ (and in some cases, their pets’) names, and some of their occupations. I know what they drive and sometimes I know when they go on vacation. I’ve even fed the above mentioned pets on said vacations.

It may not seem like much, but trust me – it’s progress.

In this day and age, when we are taught to fear strangers because “creepers” lurk around every corner, it’s become strangely difficult to get to know each other. Eye contact? What’s that?

We’ve lived here for about six years now, and I’m finally starting to feel comfortable enough to let my guard down a little. I actually smile at my neighbors, wave hello, say good morning. And astonishingly enough, they respond! Funny, isn’t it, how it usually only takes one person to reach out and extend that first gesture of friendliness?
We’re still a long way from joint barbeques and block parties, but the sense of community and social mingling is definitely growing.

I just hope it doesn’t take another six years.


Today’s Gratitude List:

·         Dandelion fluff

·         Sprigs of mint

·         An extra hour of sleep this morning!

25 July 2013

Thirsty Thursday:My Mojito

I've been practicing my mojito making skills this week in anticipation for my lovely friend, Miranda, and her family coming for a visit soon.  She told me she's been dreaming about drinking mojitos by the ocean.  What are friends for, if not to grant these kinds of wishes?
I used the recipe below and then added a few fresh raspberries for decoration/extra flavor. Can't wait to hand this refreshing beverage to my long-time gal pal!
2 Tbl. fresh lime juice
2 heaping tsp. superfine sugar
1 C crushed ice
12 fresh mint leaves + sprig for garnish
1/4 C White Rum
2 Tbl club soda
Stir together lime juice and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add 1/4 C crushed ice. Tear mint leaves in  half and add to glass. Gently stir (muddle) for about 15 seconds, then add rum, remaining ice, and club soda. Gently stir for 5 seconds and serve! 


Today's Gratitude List:
  • the shiny new kitchen faucet (and plumbers)
  • friendly neighbors (it's nice to actually know their names)
  • healthy family

20 July 2013

Less is More - Musings on Friendship

As a young girl, I ran with a whole gaggle of gal pals.  I call us a gaggle, because I’m sure that’s what we sounded like – geese, honking noisily wherever we went, disturbing the peace and tranquility that the adults favored.

At the movie theater. At the public swimming pool. The mall.

At school. In the park. Slumber parties. Roller skating rink.

There we were – all ten or twelve…or fifteen of us at once.  Chattering like sparrows. Really annoying sparrows. Sparrows that won’t shut up when you’re trying to sleep in.

Sparrows that…okay, enough with the bird analogies…


The subconscious goal, of course, was to collect as many friends as possible – the more you had, the more socially acceptable you were.  It meant you were liked, popular, and well-adjusted in all manner of social skills. It meant you were happy.

Right? Hmmmm.

Flash forward 20+ years and you’ll see my once-gaggle of friends has dwindled to measly proportions.

Three is my magic number now - three perfectly beautiful (inside and out) friends. I see no need for more. Kind acquaintances and super-sweet work colleagues are a blessing, to be sure, but when it comes to true, deep-rooted-weather-any-storm, always-there-for-me friends, I find that less is more.

In the same way that a single flower can be more beautiful than a bouquet or a piece of art more exquisite when it stands alone, friendship, for me, is far more meaningful, valuable, and intimate when shared with only a select few.

"True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in their worth and choice."
- Samuel Johnston

True friendship takes a level of focus and dedication that other relationships may not require. You have to nurture it.  You have to tend to it. You have to hold back it’s hair when it’s had too much to drink and gets sick on New Year’s Eve and ends up falling asleep on your futon, fake eyelashes askew, drooling on your decorative pillows…

There are more laughs, cheers, and celebrating in the good times. More hugs, hand-holding, and (sometimes tough tell-it-like-it-is) encouragement in the bad times. I love my friends. I wouldn’t trade my magic three for a whole gaggle, flock, or brace (oops, more bird words) of others. When you find friends like these, you keep them and you keep them close.


“She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”
Toni Morrison

Many smiles and blessings of friendship,
Weekend Rewind
Linking up with Weekend Rewind
 @ Maxabella Loves

Today’s Gratitude List:

·         Greek yogurt

·         Old fashioned wooden toys for Izzy

·         Painted rocks and river walks

·         The mailman and packages of books!
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