Sunday, January 24, 2016

OMG. Lush.

Some time ago a friend of mine told me about Lush. I remember thinking it sounded nice, but I was a mostly stay-at-home mum at the time and was perpetually broke. I couldn't afford the drive down to Portland, never mind the purchase of $7 or $8 bath goodies. Fast forward a couple of years and I'm working full time and making bank (not really, but I can afford to drive to Portland and back without having to sell my prized possessions on the way). Last weekend I finally got myself into the Maine Mall Lush.

So, first impressions: Damn, does it smell good in here and holy shit, I may work in a high school, but wow that's a lotta teenagers. The discomfort of being around so many who had recently been through puberty aside (this is why I teach adults, not kids), I really super liked it in there. I immediately gravitated toward the bath bombs and bubble bars. I was immediately greeted by a very enthusiastic guy, who was super helpful since I really didn't know what to get. And actually, every employee who I encountered in the store was really sweet (the girl at checkout had a SWEET HP tattoo) and I left with some very fun stuff.

First on the docket are these suckers:

These actually weren't for me, but for the kids. It's play dough for the tub! M. and E. really enjoyed them and they went quick (E. took a bath twice in one day, purely for the fun of using these). They smell wonderful, run the water a fun color, and make lots and lots and lots of bubbles that last a very long time. I actually took a picture of E. in the tub with all her bubbles, but she's forbidden me to post it online, so you'll just have to take my word for it. 

I also got this lovely bath bomb: 

It's the Sex Bomb, which is super highly rated on the website, was on the 2015 Nylon Beauty Hit List, and I LOOOOVED it. It fizzed and fizzed and fizzed, scented my whole bathroom with this nice, ethereal scent (I'm terrible at describing scents, so I'm not even going to try, go look at the description on Lush's site if you want an idea). This was a super fabulous way to unwind in the tub.

I also got my hubby a little something (because he probably takes more baths than I do):
I got this one because it had a kind of more "masculine" scent and it wasn't sparkly and pink. The hubs said he liked it a lot and that his skin felt more smooth and hydrated (actually, he said he felt greasy, but in a good way, but what I said is essentially the same as what he meant). 

Finally, there is my absolutely favorite purchase: 

Do you remember a scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Harry is taking a bath in the prefects' bathroom and he fills the swimming pool sized tub with deliciously scented and colored bubbles? This is as close as I'll ever come (and believe me, I've daydreamed about that wonderful bath since I was in middle school). That tub was so full of bubbles, the bathwater such a pretty color, so full of bubbles and wonderful scents I was determined to never come out (which actually almost happened, I fell asleep in the tub). This is the Unicorn Bubble Bar and I just sort of want all of them. If the unicorn part doesn't sell you (And I mean, how could it not?), the sheer fact that it is just wonderful to smell and feel and lives you smelling pretty and looking just a tiny bit sparkly should really do the trick.

God, do I already love a good, hot bath, but these up the whole hot-water-in-a-big-old-fashioned-claw-foot-tub experience to another level. Love. It.

So, I feel like I've done quite a few review-y kind of posts lately (or maybe just two - not paying a lot of attention). I promise, more posts of substance are coming, I'm just really enjoying being able to afford STUFF lately.

P.S. I don't really dislike being around teenagers. I just dislike being around teenagers when I'm at the mall. It reminds that I'm old. 😬 Why being at a high school 35 hours a week doesn't doe this I don't know, probably because I regularly have former teachers telling me I don't look any different than I did 10 (TEN!!!) years ago. 😀

Friday, January 15, 2016

Kate Spade Bag Review and What's in My Bag

It's been a few weeks since I received my Beacon Court Jeanne bag from Kate Spade. This was my first ever kind of super expensive (but not really, because it was on sale and I used a gift card) designer bag purchase. I do have really cute Dooney and Bourke tote that I bought in 2014 and use during the summer, but I feel like Kate Spade is a whole other level for me. Anyway, I adored the bag when it arrived - it was a perfect color (light smoke is the name of the color, and I would describe it as a pearly gray with some cool blue undertones), perfect size, and perfect style and fit for me (note: I pretty much just wear it as a cross body as I like to be hands-free). But now that we're a few weeks out, do I feel the same way?


I still adore this bag and my heart still does little pitter-patters of love every time I look at it. I have been toting it back and forth to work and out to errands, just going about my life, really, so I think I'm at a point where I can attest to it's practicality and wear in addition to it's wonderful aesthetics.

The bag has one main compartment along with a slender front pocket that closes with a magnet where I usually store my phone (iPhone 6 Plus), and it's really easy to get to my phone. Inside, there is one large zip compartment where I keep sticky notes, my Erin Condren stickers, and a little red pouch filled with some in-a-pinch items.

In the main compartment I'm able to keep quite a bit of stuff, including two pouches filled with pens and lipstick and a little fox shaped pouch (which I ADORE and bought at Walmart, of all places) for my money and license. I also almost always have my Erin Condren planner and sometimes a larger wallet in there, all of which fits very comfortably.

That is EVERYTHING that fits in my Kate Spade bag! I feel like it's a lot, but I also feel like the bag isn't ginormous (disclaimer: I usually cary pretty large totes for bags #momlife, so my idea of large might be slightly skewed). Also, in case you didn't pick up on it already, all my little pouches are courtesy of ipsy, a.k.a the best thing I've ever done for myself.

So, considering the space available, the way it looks, how easy it is to wear and how it looks when I'm wearing it, I cannot say anything other than I absolutely, unequivocally love this bag. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a nicely sized, neutral toned purse.


It's the beginning of January, which means spring semester for college students is just a couple of weeks away. I started on my journey for my master's degree this past fall, taking (and acing!) two courses. I'm ready to start two more shortly. If I continue at this pace, two courses a semester, I'll have my master's by May 2019. What's a girl to do once she earns her master's? Well, go on and get her doctorate, of course!

My thought had been once I finished my master's program, I might work for some time before pursuing my doctorate, but the more I think about it, the less I want to wait. Of course, life and circumstances always have a chance of changing things, but barring any stickiness and the general agreeability of my family, I plan to apply to doctoral programs in the not too distant future.

I'm looking at this as an opportunity for my family to do something and live somewhere we never have. I'm looking at this as a chance to do something totally different than anything I've done before. Yes, I've been a student many times over, but being in the thick of academia, immersing myself in topics and research, is something I haven't really had an opportunity to do before, and is something I know I would love to be able to do. I am a student at heart, a born researcher and life long learner.

The biggest question is: Where would we go? Well, there are a few factors that would go into this decision, the biggest one being where have I been accepted. I can't say that my I've set my sights low. I plan on applying to Johns Hopkins, Harvard, UPenn, and the University of Washington. These are all highly regarded universities with competitive Ph.D. programs. I'm a smart lady and I am currently kicking butt in my master's program and plan to continue to do so, but that doesn't automatically mean I'll be admitted into one of these schools.

My nerves about not being admitted aside, I am totally enthralled by the idea of studying and researching at one of these schools. All of them have amazing programs, history, and people attached to them and are located in parts of the country I would love to live in. I'm really keen on being part of a Ph.D. program because I like the idea of tackling big questions and moving deeper into issues surrounding education and how it works within society, and all of these schools offer programs that do just that.

My end goal with my Ph.D. is not to climb the ladder in our or any other school district. I don't have a strong inclination (at this point) toward taking over a leadership position. This, of course, could change, but for now I see myself working within a university or nonprofit, maybe someday going to Washington to help shape policy, or, better yet, opening a school to serve our area, where there is extremely limited choice of where you can send your children to school, particularly if you're low-income. If you know me in real life you know I have very strong feelings regarding how things are currently done in public schools. My mission, regardless of where I am in my career or studies, is to affect change. Considering my skill set and personality type, this path is probably one of the best ways for me to do this.

So, this is all a still few years off yet, as I mentioned. I have at least another two and a half years left in my master's program, and I also love my job. It's fun and fulfilling and just all around incredible. I'm extremely lucky to work where I do, doing what I do and I may decide to keep doing it long after I receive my Master's, saving this dream for a little later. But if it comes sooner or later, it's coming either way, and I can't wait to get started.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lottery Day Dreams

I'm a day dreamer, big time. Like reading and writing, it's one more way for me to escape. It's probably the reason I'm not an alcoholic. When I go for a run, take a drive, stand in the shower, or even just lay in bed, chances are I'm not really there. I can be any variety of places, but lately I've been sitting here:

My eco friendly mansion.

And I've been thinking about all the different ways I could spend roughly $600 million. Oh, the bags, the bags, the bags... And shoes. I would have literally all the shoes. 

But once I wade through all the fabulous things I'd like to buy for myself and my family and the trips we'd like to take, I think about the pretty pitiful dent we'd make in this massive amount of money and how incredibly bored I'd get just sitting around. (Because I'd obviously have to quit my job so I could have time to buy all those bags and shoes. Oh, and make-up.)

So, I really started thinking seriously about how I would use the money if we won. Because, you know, why not? 

Here is a non-comprehensive list of things I would do (not related to buying Burberry purses and Christian Louboutin shoes) if we won the current Powerball jackpot: 
  • Start scholarship programs for our local high school, community college, and, of course, our adult ed. program
  • Buy a building and take pay the taxes on for as long as I can for our adult ed. program (also, I probably wouldn't quit my job entirely)
  • Randomly choose Kickstarter and Go Fund Me campaigns and donate all the money they need
  • With my copious amounts of time and money go to Birthwise Midwifery school and become a midwife and provide free prenatal care and low-cost, if not free, home and birth center deliveries (I'm not sure if I worded that right, but there you have it)
  • I would also loudly and strongly advocate for change in our medical culture to allow for a larger role for certified professional midwives (CPMs)
  • Become a voice and a set of hands for those who aren't able to advocate for themselves, but while truly being a voice for their needs and wants, not what I think their needs and wants should be
  • Sponsor local farms and help find a way to make healthy eating more tangible for lower income families (all the while eating more healthfully myself, because, regardless of price, we'd be able to afford all the organic spinach we want, too)
I'm sure there are other things that would come up along the way, but this is a fairly decent representation of what I'd want to do (besides, you know, the luxury items and traveling and the eco-friendly mansion). 

Of course, it's all just a dream. The reality is, I'm not likely to win the Powerball (and actually, if you're reading this, I didn't win, because I won't be posting it until Thursday...if we haven't won). But I like to dream, and the thing about dreams is that even if you don't magically become a multi-millionaire in one fell swoop, you can still have them and do you best to fulfill time in some capacity even if it takes much longer or manifests itself in much smaller ways. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Little (and Big) Luxuries

I have a thing for luxury lately. I've been getting my fill of YouTube videos by luxury item aficionados (Pretty Shiny Sparkly is a favorite of mine) during our Christmas break. A vast majority of the things discussed in each video are things I cannot afford now (and probably won't be able to in the future), but oh, man, there is something so bizarrely interesting in peeking into the lives of women who can drop some serious dough on bags, make-up and other lovely things.

I would have thought watching and reading about all the swag some of these ladies get would send me into a serious spin of jealousy, and maybe it would have not so long ago, but instead I just find it interesting and kind of fun. I mean, the blogger/vlogger I mentioned above is a doctor. She, I assume, works hard for the money she has to spend on these luxury items. I can't begrudge someone their hard-earned cash and how they choose to spend it. And, honestly, even if she was just a wealthy housewife, there's really no sense in feeling upset that she has what I don't. No, instead I just sit back and think, "Wow! That's so cool!" And sometimes I even feel a bit inspired. No, I can't afford a Louis Vuitton purse (and nor do I particularly want one - I'm not sure I fully get the allure of Louis Vuitton; I would much prefer a Fendi, Chanel, or Burberry bag, but that's me), but I can afford (with a little mindfulness toward saving) a Kate Spade, Coach, or even a bag from our local designer at Rough and Tumble (next bag on my list of wants).

I enjoy the concept of luxury though, even if some specific items are out of my reach at the moment. After all, luxury is defined as, "the state of great comfort and extravagant living." Sure, the word "extravagant" implies a certain expense, but it's also all relative to one's life. What's extravagant for me may not be so for someone else. And great comfort, well now, that can be free, even if it is a rare or hard-won thing, like a warm and quiet bath or a day lounging in bed without disturbance (these are clearly mom luxuries). 

I can't afford to drop hundreds (or thousands) of dollars at a time, but I can do little things for myself, save my money for a few of my own kind of "luxury" items, and I can take care of what I have and make mindful purchases of things that I find aesthetically pleasing and are reminiscent of their more expensive counterparts. And, of course, I can take those baths when the opportunity arises. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

I'm a big fan of making goals and no body loves a New Year's resolution more than me, and this year is really no different, at least in the fact that I am going to make a resolution. But this resolution is different from years previous.

I like to plan, look ahead, write things down, and decide how my life will look a month, six months, a year from now. I'm very good at the planning part, but I suck at the execution part. Like, suck really bad. And I don't think that makes me different from a lot of people, but I still find it somewhat frustrating and disheartening, nonetheless.

So, this year I'm resolving to not look to far into the future, not make any hard or fast plans, and to shift my gaze into the shorter term. Get me through this week, this day, this hour. Give my best in the moments I'm in rather than fussing on what I can do to get ready for several months (or years) down the road. Now, of course, there are some things that are unavoidable. Financially and academically speaking I have specific goals in mind that really do need to be maintained, even though the end results are some way off, but in regards to everything else in my life, it's time to stop the fuss. It's time to stop planning so far ahead.

It's time to look at where I am and appreciate the good and hard work I've down and to give myself a break.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tegu Blocks - A Review

The following review is entirely my own, uninfluenced in anyway by the makers of the product described and reviewed. I received no payment in any form to write said review, I just REALLY like this product!

Here we are, at the edge of a New Year, Christmas just behind us. It's been a truly wonderful week at home, to the point where I don't know how I'm going to feel next Monday when I'm back to work. We've spent much of it relaxing, watching movies, playing in the snow, and, of course, testing out brand new toys (and Mama purging a lot of the old ones). It's been long enough at this point to say there are some favorites amongst the kids and me, as well.

While we certainly don't discriminate much when it comes to toys in our house (we have our fair share of plastic and T.V./movie character driven toys in our home, which the kids adore), I personally have a preference for open-ended toys that essentially demand the kids to be creative and imaginative. This year, my parents gave Michael a set of magnetic blocks from a company called Tegu. They have been an absolute hit. Michael will sit happily for several minutes at a time (almost unheard of for this 2-year-old boy) creating all sorts of different configurations, creatures, and experimenting with the magnets and figuring how what parts of the blocks will stick, what will repel, and what will do nothing at all. Sometimes the magnets can make things challenging and frustrating for him, but in a healthy way. Being two, he doesn't want any help, so he has to do some problem solving. 

I have enjoyed playing with these blocks, too! I'm not the kind of parent who likes to sit and play with her kids (one, because I just don't want to, but also I don't think it's good for parents to influence or be too involved in their children's play), but I've had fun playing, too. Even our too-cool-for-you seven year old has been caught playing with them. Despite the simplicity of the shapes and relatively few number of blocks (M. received a set of 14), we haven't yet run out of ways to use the blocks. I'm tempted to purchase one of the smallest sets (a packet of 8) just to keep in my purse for when we're out at restaurants or have to sit somewhere and wait for a long period of time. 
I don't really have any complaints to make regarding these blocks. They price is a bit intimidating (about $35 for the set of 14), however, in a world inundated with cheap plastic toys that barely make it from one Christmas or birthday to the next, these are the kind of well-crafted toys that will last for years and I can imagine they will be played with by grandchildren or passed on to a local library for their children's room. They are also made sustainably in Honduras, with charity and service in mind. With a minimal amount of searching (i.e. please correct me if you know I'm wrong) their claims toward sustainably harvesting their materials and working with communities in Honduras check out. With the quality of the product and also the quality of their service to their factory's community in mind, the cost doesn't bother me much at all. That said, if you're interested in a lower price, Amazon does sell them for a pretty significant price cut, though if/when we buy another set (and I'd like to, for M.'s birthday in February), we'll probably go back to the same small toy store my parents got the first set from. 
If you have children between the ages 2-5, these are an ideal toy. The set of 14 is the perfect amount for my little guy, but as he gets older I imagine he might benefit from having a few more blocks, so if you have a little one who's closer to 4 or 5, I would consider investing in a larger set so they have more blocks to get creative with. If you're looking for something to spend money or a gift card on for your kiddo or are in desperate search for something different for a birthday gift this coming year, I heartily recommend Tegu Blocks.