Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Winged Love

Absolutely loving the views from my front porch swing!
My butterfly bush has attracted lots of butterflies and even a hummingbird this year.
I love getting close enough to capture some shots of these gorgeous creatures.

I was so blessed by the beauty of these little gifts from Heaven. Butterflies have taken on a very special meaning for me over the last year and a half, so I felt like God was sending me an early birthday blessing last weekend by allowing me to capture these shots.

Hope you enjoy them!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Snap Happy!

I have been taking lots of photography clients this summer. I had decided not to take on any clients during the school year last year because I really just wanted to focus on having a successful first year of teaching. ...And then summer vacation rolled around, and people began calling/texting/Facebooking about doing pictures. I have loved getting to use my new lens and reconnect with old friends through my camera. Here are some of my favorites:

The Beal Wedding

Hannah's Senior Portraits

Megan's Head Shots for Theater

Cameron's Two-Year Portraits

Linking up {{here}}.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

28 in 28

On Wednesday, I celebrated my *gasp* 28th birthday. I had a wonderfully relaxing day with my family... but seriously, time can slowwww down any minute now. Here are 28 things I would like to accomplish over the next 365 days:

Linking up {{here}}


Summer {School} Fun!

It's hard to believe that my five-week assignment as a summer school teacher has come to an end already! I had so much fun with my students that it hardly felt like work. I had the privilege of working with kiddos who recently moved to our country or who speak another language in their homes. One of our favorite projects all summer was building water bottle rockets and launching them over a hundred feet into the air! You can teach a child about air pressure until you're blue in the face... but until you make the learning practical/authentic for your students, they aren't going to truly grasp the concept. The water bottle rockets were a great hands-on learning experience about pressurized air that generated a lot of excitement in the summer school program.

We started by creating a diagram about water bottle rockets. This was a great time to tie in academic vocabulary of nonfiction text features, like title, diagram, and labels.

We built our rocket as a group. The students decided to use rocks to weigh down the nose cone. Each child then decorated a strip of paper to attach to the rocket.

My kiddos were so proud of the rocket that we created. I was so proud of them for their demonstration of learning!

 It was awesome to do a shared writing later that afternoon about their rocket-launching experience and to hear them make conclusions like, "Our rocket went really high because we pumped 100 pounds of air pressure inside" and "Maybe our rocket would have gone even higher if the rocks in the nose cone weren't so heavy." Inside, I was doing cartwheels and a happy dance because they were using the vocabulary from our rocket diagram to make connections in their learning. Love it! Here are some of the ideas that they included in their writing:

I absolutely loved my summer-school teaching gig. Here are some pictures of my classroom. I spent $15 at the Dollar Tree and was able to create a fun, vibrant learning space for my summer school kiddos. I made some tissue paper puff-balls (forgive me if they have a technical name, ha!) and bought some fun tiki/luau themed decorations. Love the Dollar Tree!


Friday, July 20, 2012

What Teachers Make

Good Morning, friends! It's a dreary Friday morning here in my corner of the world. I have so much that I want to blog about with tons of pics I've been taking... But my laptop has died on me. A new one is on order and should be here by Tuesday, so in the meantime I thought I would try to post from my iPad.

I'm so excited to be working with Shaina from SHADYLANE BLOG on a blog for my classroom! I'm still playing around with names for my blog, but it will basically be a way for parents and families of my students to connect to what we are busy learning about in the classroom. I will be able to blog about current events in second grade, and I would love to eventually involve my students in the writing process - maybe initially as a shared writing process, and then gradually begin to have individual student "journalists" write up articles for me to post online. It will also be a place where parents can learn about our curriculum, find links to support from home what we are learning in the classroom, see pictures of our learning experiences, download the homework their son/daughter "forgot"... etc. To say I am excited about this project is an understatement! I've said it before and I will say it again, Shaina is an amazing, talented designer and I can't wait to see the online home she creates for my classroom.

In gathering inspiration for my blog design on Pinterest, I came across a pin for my FAVORITE inspirational/motivational video. I came across this video when I was student teaching almost two years ago, and I kid-you-not, I watched/listened to ts video EVERY DAY during student teaching to get me pumped for my day. Hope you teachers out there enjoy it as much as I do!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Me, Myself, and I

1. What's your biggest phobia?

I know from my years as a psychology major that phobias are strong, abnormal, irrational fears. I can say that I strongly dislike snakes... and I strongly dislike heights... but phobias? Hmmmm. I guess the biggest phobia I have is losing my husband. ...Weird, right? I mean, I know it sounds silly because eventually everyone's life comes to an end and I know that someday, either he or I will be the first to leave this Earth, thereby leaving the other behind. But seriously. I don't ever want to know what that feels like... to not have my Hubby by my side anymore. Sometimes at night when J is out working late (the joys of being the wife of a mechanic!), I lay in bed wide awake, praying to hear the crunching sound of gravel in our driveway to let me know he's home. A series of completely irrational thoughts runs through my mind during those minutes that feel like hours, like "What if something happened to him? What if he was in an accident? How would I take care of this house all by myself? Would they send a police officer to come give me the bad news if something did happen?" ...Yeah, I guess it's a phobia. I just don't want to live a day without my hubby, that's all.

2. If you could relive any day of your life, what would it be and why?

This one is a no-brainer. I would relive my wedding day. When I say "relive", I mean that my day would go exactly as it had the first time around. Our wedding day was perfect. There were so many special moments... from the card Jason sent me early in the morning with a rose and a poem that he had written... to the jittery excitement of getting ready with my girlfriends... to taking my Daddy's arm and walking down the aisle to the man of my dreams... to promising to love J for the rest of my life... to being chauffeured by my Pap in his '57 Chevy... to partying on the dancefloor at the mansion for our reception. I'd LOVE to relive that day... to experience those special moments and see so many of our loved ones who have since then gone to Heaven.

3. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would that be?

Blah, who would want to stay the same age forever?! Not me. There is too much beauty to experience in every season of life to stay one age for all time. No thank you!

4. Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?

I have been told that I look like Kelly Clarkson before.
Do you see it?

5. What songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?

The Teenage Years:  MmmmmBop by Hanson
The College Years: Drops of Jupiter by Train
The Dating Years: Me and You by Kenny Chesney
The Married Years: A Thousand Years by Christina Perry
The Teaching Years: You Make Me Smile by Uncle Cracker


Monday, July 16, 2012

Catching Up...

Can you believe I'm home from work today because I'm sick?! I mean seriously, who gets bronchitis in the middle of July? ...Apparently I do. ;(

While the crazy high fever seems to have subsided, I'm still achy, coughin' up a storm, and just trying to get some rest. My best friends over the last 24 hours have been:

And my furry friend, Casey. I think pets can sense when you're not feeling well. She's extra clingy and won't leave my side.

Figured I'll take advantage of my time stuck on the couch (recently relocated from my bed for a change of scenery) and do some catch-up blogging. Last Sunday, J and I went on a hiking trip. My new 85mm f/1.8 prime lens had just arrived on Saturday and I was excited to "stretch its legs" on the hiking trails.

We drove about 30 minutes to Catoctin Mountain State Park. It's an easy drive from where we live, and it's even more beautiful in the fall with the changing colors.

We opted for the 2.8 mile (round trip) hike to Cunningham Falls.

The trail was moderately difficult, and it was close to 100 degrees out that day. So needless to say, I was a hot mess! There were thunderstorms all around, and the humidity was really high. I haven't sweat so much in a loooong time! ...Thankfully I had a hiking partner (who's rather easy on the eyes) to keep me motivated to get up the mountain!

We made a couple of stops along the way. Jason came upon a raspberry bush and just had to have a taste... while I'm yelling in the background, "Don't eat those berries! They might be poisonous!" And of course he just grins at me and pops another in his mouth. ...And he seems to be okay, so I guess they weren't poisonous after all - ha!

We made it to the falls and enjoyed the view for a few minutes before turning around. It was starting to rain and we didn't want to get caught on the mountain in a thunderstorm.

We had a great time exploring the trail. J thought it would be really funny to dump a bottle of ice cold water on my head after the hike. Too bad I don't have a picture of that one! Here's some other pictures from our day:

Linking up {{here}}.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Trifle Love

Don't know about you, but I love anything almond... especially almond-flavored cookies, cakes, coffee, etc. I buy the Tastefully Simple Absolutely Almond Pound Cake Mix and keep several boxes of it on hand for whenever my sweet tooth craving flares up for something almondy and delicious.

For my mom's Fourth of July Picnic, I decided to tweak a recipe on the back of the Absolutely Almond Pound Cake Mix to make a trifle. I followed the recipe for the most part, but I "jazzed" it up a bit. I named my trifle "Strawberry-Amaretto Almond Trifle". A better name for it would be "Sin in a Bowl" ...because it's really, really good. Just LOOK at it:

Here's what you need to enjoy your own bowl full of heaven:

Absolutely Almond Pound Cake Mix*
3/4 cup melted butter (1.5 sticks)
1 cup water
3.4 oz box of instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cups milk
8 oz. thawed whipped topping
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled & sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup amaretto liquer


1. Prepare Absolutely Almond Pound Cake as directed on the package with butter and water. Cool completely; cube. *If you don't have any Absolutely Almond Pound Cake Mix on hand, SHAME ON YOU!!! ...Just kidding :)  You can use your own pound cake recipe and add some almond flavoring! ...But seriously, save yourself the time and energy and stock up in the Tastefully Simple mix!

2. In a bowl, sprinkle the sugar over the sliced strawberries and pour the amaretto liquer over the strawberries. Give the strawberries, sugar, and amaretto mixture a good stir to combine. Let the strawberries soak in the amaretto syrup for a few minutes...or hours. (I usually do this step the night before I assemble the trifle and let the strawberries soak up all of the amaretto goodness overnight).

3. Combine pudding and milk in a separate bowl. Whisk 2 minutes. Fold in the whipped topping.

4. In a clear glass bowl, layer pudding mixture, cake cubes, and strawberry slices. It's important that you layer in that order so that the pound cake absorbs the strawberry-amaretto syrup and juices.

Makes 10-12 Servings
Linking up {{here}} and {{here}}

If you are interested in purchasing some delicious Tastefully Simple products, click {{here}} to contact my friend Amanda, and be sure to tell her I sent you!

On a side note, check out the pretty bowl that I served my trifle in! I actually went yard-saleing on the 4th of July at the "Mile-Long Yard Sale" near my town in search of a pretty trifle bowl. I came across this lovely find, with an asking price of $5. I ended up getting the bowl for $2... love a bargain! It has a pretty silver base that polished up nicely with some baking soda.

...And since it's Wednesday, I'm linking up {{here}} to share what I'm loving today!

1. My new 85mm prime lens from Nikon! It's a fixed focal length, no zoom. Great for low light situations (goes down to f/1.8) and has a great bokeh effect - gets really blurry outside of focus area. It's recommended for portrait photography. I got to stretch its legs during a wedding on Saturday and on a hike with J on Sunday... and I AM IN L-L-LOVE!!!

2. Quality time with good friends. My friend Amy and I went out for dinner and fondue the other night. We played catch-up for four hours... she's one of those friends that I may not see or talk to her every week or even every month, but whenever we get together we pick right up where we left off. We have a lot in common because we are both teachers, our husbands are friends and share a common interest in tractor pulling (...I know, I know... I hear the crowd saying, "Tractor-what?" Don't worry, I'll explain this hobby in another post), and we are both into photography.

3. Fondue... Yummm! Amy and I had some chocolate marshmallow fondue to finish off our dinner the other night, and I *LOVE* the spread of sweet and salty treats that we got to enjoy.

4. Local gems. Took my summer school kiddos on a field trip today to the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum. Saw all kinds of neat exhibits about our county's history. Loved this particular exhibit of old photography equipment.

5. Sparkles. Love this shirt/necklace/earring combo!
What would the world be like without sparkle?!
Shirt: Gap
Necklace & Earrings: Premier Designs

And, as always, love my Hubby!
Here he is on the day I became his wife. Best day ever.

Until next time... xoxox