3 Things to Treat Yourself to This Summer {Featuring Warby Parker}

Why yes, I did disappear for an entire week without warning. The flu is a sneaky, sneaky snake. Last weekend was spent on the couch with body aches, a blocked nose, a cough, a fever, and all of the loveliness that comes with those things. It took several days for me to begin feeling normal again. But alas, here I am.

That is out of the way...now let's talk about something more pleasant. As an adult who works two jobs, I often find the summer months a bit depressing. (I'm aware, that doesn't sound pleasant, but stick with me.) You know how it goes...you open up the ol' Facebook or Instagram, and you're slapped in the face by vacation updates and travel photos and general fun in the sun that others have posted. All the while, you're sitting at your desk because money and vacation time are sparse.

Sometimes, you just have to say no to summer trips and shenanigans. Sometimes money has to be saved, and those paid days off have to be used towards other obligations...such as fall wedding season, ha ha. However, this doesn't mean that you can't fit in a bit of summer fun between your responsibilities. Here are some small things you can do to treat yourself amidst a long, hot work week.

1. Have a relaxing day off.
A 24-hour time period can be more than enough to relax. Instead of sitting in front of the TV on your rare day off, go do something that is going to rejuvenate you. Have a spa day. Drive to the coast or to the lake. Go on a mini adventure with your significant other or your BFF. Do something that is out of the norm for you. You'll be glad that you did!

2. Try something new and yummy.
Summer is a time for cold, delicious treats. Ice cream, of course, is a given on any summer day. But, if you really want to treat yourself, go for something that is a bit more exciting. Maybe you want to try your own recipe? Maybe there's a new place in town you've been meaning to hit up? Whatever it is, make sure it's something that is a rare treat...such as the edible cookie dough pictured above!

3. Buy yourself a pair of quality sunglasses.
If I had to choose one summer MUST-HAVE (besides sunblock), it would be sunglasses. The summer sun is no joke, even if you are just back and forth in your everyday life. Investing in some good sunglasses is awesome for a couple of reasons...they protect your eyes from harmful rays, and...they're cute! Throw them on while you're driving to work, and you'll feel like a new person.

Warby Parker just released their newest collection called the Sculpted Series. These glasses are made in Italy, and they have two layers that create a really cool dimension. My favorite style is the Stella, which is pictured above. They are such a beautiful neutral color, and they almost have a retro look to them, which would make them a perfect accessory to add interest to any summer work outfit.

Warby Parker's glasses (both sunglasses and eyeglasses) are super unique, and you can tell how much care goes into each item that they craft. They also partner with non-profit organizations in order to provide glasses to those who need them, but cannot afford them. When you purchase a pair, they donate a pair. This helps to ensure that people everywhere have the means to read, learn, and grow.

These sunglasses will make you feel great about yourself, but they will also make you feel great about helping others. Click here to check out their new sculpted series.

How do you treat yourself when you're in the middle of a work-filled summer? Tell me in the comments below!


Rise Up

I would always open up the door
Always looking up at higher floors
Want to see it all, give me more
I was always up for making changes
Walking down the street, meeting strangers
Flipping through my life, turning pages
I'm bursting like the fourth of July, so color me and blow me away
I'm broken in the prime of my life, so embrace it and leave me to stray

Is anyone else a fan of Imagine Dragons? I LOVE them...they are one of my absolute favorite bands. I had the opportunity to see them in concert when I was living in Prague last year, and it was such a great experience.

Today, I thought I would share my favorite song off of their new album, Evolve, with you. It's called Rise Up, and I cannot begin to explain how much it speaks to me. If you struggle with a restless soul, I know it will grab hold of you as well.

Have a great weekend!


In-Home Classroom and Office Space

I'm really excited to share this post with you today! For a while now, I've been wanting to create an in-home office space for myself. Getting an online ESL teaching job with VIPKID finally gave me the push to actually make that space happen. Keep reading if you would like to see my new little sanctuary.

I wanted to put together an area that would be a functional "classroom," but that would also serve as a cozy corner to blog/write. Luckily, we have a spare bedroom that only has a bed and a few boxes in it, so I was able to steal a bright corner and set up shop.

Behind my chair is my "classroom" background. This is what my students see when I'm teaching. It won't always stay exactly this way...I plan to change it out fairly frequently. The polka dot tapestry is from a photo booth set that I purchased at Walmart, and the world map and ice cream banner are from Target.

Since my students will never see what is in front of the camera, that is the area that I really used to be myself. Slade bought the desk for me. It was only $40 at Walmart, and it's really cute! I'm eventually going to buy a good desk chair, but for now I'm just using one from our dining room table. I keep a blanket to put over my legs when I get chilly, and the orange shirt I have to wear while teaching hangs over the back of the chair for easy access. Sometimes I sit on the yoga ball instead of the chair to change things up a bit.

I don't like clutter, so I try to keep the top of my desk pretty sparse. The file folder organizer is from TJMaxx, and the globe tape dispenser and both lamps are from Target. I originally intended to just keep the brass lamp on the surface, but I need the white one for extra light while I'm teaching.

My favorite part of this space is my gallery wall. Along the bottom, I have three cork boards that hold a variety of memories. There are post cards from my European travels, concert tickets, and some of my favorite photos. It's so nice to be able to look up from working and reminisce about some of the best times of my life. The prints above the cork boards are from a variety of places, including Etsy, Blue Poppy Gallery, and the market in Charleston, SC. The green print was a bridesmaid gift from my cousin Taylor's wedding.

Below the desk is the not so pretty part. This is where I keep all of my teaching props and supplies. One day, I'll have a better storage system for all of it, but this works for now. The world map step stool was a Christmas gift from my parents a couple of years ago...I'm not positive where it's from. The pink and white box that is sitting on top of it at the moment is the maid of honor gift I received from my friend Liz for her upcoming wedding. Fun fact: I've had the yellow teddy that is sitting in the crate since the day I was born. 

And there you have it! It's not much, but it's mine, and I'm so happy with it. It keeps me motivated, and makes me actually want to sit down to work. I would say that alone is a win. 

Do you have a home office space? What is your favorite part of your home? 


Calories Shmalories {Pinterest Recipe Experiments}

As you may or may not already know, Friday was Slade's birthday. And, what do you do on birthdays? You throw calorie intake out the window, and you feast. You eat whatever the heck you want to eat.

That is how Slade and I ended up grubbing on Cracked Out Tater Tot Casserole, followed by Bacon and Beer Cake for dessert. I had a couple of people on Facebook and Instagram ask me for the recipes, so here we go!

The original recipe for this dreamy dish can be found over at Plain Chicken. I modified it a bit, by opting out of adding chicken, and adding real bacon instead of "bacon pieces." You will need:

//One 2 pound bag of frozen tater tots
//2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
//1 packet of Ranch dressing mix
//1 can of Cream of Chicken soup
//1 package of bacon, cooked and chopped
//16 ounces of sour cream

After you cook and chop your bacon, mix it, the cheese, Ranch dressing mix, Cream of Chicken soup, and sour cream together in a large bowl. Add the tater tots to the mixture and make sure they are all evenly coated. Dump it all into a greased pan, and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. If you love tater tots, this is for you. Plus...who doesn't LOVE ranch? The casserole is very rich and heavy, but also delicious and indulgent.

Beer and bacon are two of Slade's favorite things, so this recipe from Brit + Co swiftly put a halt to my birthday cake scavenger hunt. I also altered this one, by choosing to make a cake instead of cupcakes, and taking a lazier route to making the icing. Here's what I used:

//1 box of butter yellow cake mix
//1 bottle of beer of your choice (I used Michelob Ultra)
//1 container of vanilla frosting
//6 slices of bacon, candied 
//2 eggs

The first thing you're going to want to do is prepare your bacon. Lay the slices out on a sheet pan, sprinkle some brown sugar over the top, and bake at 350 degrees until it's good and crispy. Next, prep your cake mix by adding the eggs, and about 3/4 of the bottle of beer. Pour it into a greased pan and pop it in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees, or until it turns that nice golden brown color. Scrape the icing into a bowl, and stir in the remainder of the bottle of beer until it's nice and creamy. Once your cake is cool, add the frosting, chop up your bacon, sprinkle it over the top, and enjoy. Honestly, this was SO good. The beer made the cake nice and fluffy. Plus, candied bacon? Can you really go wrong there?

These recipes were highly approved by both Slade and I. He loved both dishes, and I loved how easy they were to prepare. We were both certainly very full afterwards, but it was nice to enjoy his birthday treat!

Have you tried any super indulgent recipes recently? Would you try beer and bacon cake?


Happy Birthday, Slade!

My boyfriend Slade is 26 today! Fun fact: he's almost two years younger than me! I'll be 28 in September. Never thought I'd end up with a younger guy. ;)

In honor of his birthday, I thought I would write something special. Slade, here are 26 things that I love about you:

1. Those blue eyes of yours. If we ever have kids, I hope they somehow inherit your eyes!

2. Your dad jokes. I never thought I would find someone who has the exact same sense of humor that I do, but here we are.

3. Your laid-back personality. You take things as they come, and you are always able to handle life with a level head.

4. The fact that you can cook, and you also enjoy it. Otherwise we would be eating a lot of scrambled eggs and sandwiches, ha ha.

5. How determined you are. You know what you want in life, and you are working hard to get there.

6. I never feel silly talking about trivial things to you. You always make me feel important.

7. On that same note, you always know how to handle me when I'm being overly anxious or obsessive. Instead of rolling your eyes, you hug me and help me work through it.

8. Your spontaneity.

9. You're always up for anything...whether it's getting out and adventuring, or staying in to watch a movie.

10. Your optimism, and how it sets off my natural pessimism.

11. How you're such a good pet parent to Bell and Rizzo.

12. The love that you have for your family and friends.

13. How cute you act when you know there's some sort of surprise coming your way.

14. The fact that you never pass up an opportunity to tell me you love me.

15. How your laugh is always 100% genuine.

16. Your ability to adapt to any situation, even if  you feel out of place.

17. You're a Hufflepuff.

18. You have a great taste in music.

19. Even if you initially don't want to, you always give new things a chance.

20. You genuinely try to appreciate things you know I enjoy.

21. Your unfailing honesty.

22. How you are always yourself.

23. The fact that we can always communicate without arguing.

24. How you're always happy to see me, whether it's been two hours or two weeks.

25. Your ability to appreciate everything and everyone.

26. How you are, without a doubt, my other half.

Here's to 26!!!


I'll Take All the T-Shirts, Thanks

T-shirts have always been my favorite article of clothing. Ask anyone who knows me...they'll probably roll their eyes and tell you it's true. I'm a plain Jane, and I'm not even ashamed.

Here's my prerogative...they easily go with anything. Jeans? Obviously. Shorts? Match made in heaven. Skirts? Why not! Dress 'em up? You bet. Bathing suit cover-up? The easiest and coolest option. In a rush? Just throw one on!

And best of all? They never really go out of style. Hence...here's my style in a nutshell.

//T-shirt: Target // Shorts: Walmart //Shoes: Target  //Purse: Target
HOWEVER, not all t-shirts are created equal. You have to be willing to put a lot of time into finding just the right ones. They can't be too tight, but also shouldn't be too loose. They should be thin and airy, but not so thin and airy that every little thing underneath shows through. They should hold their shape after you wash them. And, preferably, they should come in a ridiculous amount of colors so you have one for every occasion.
Do I sound like an addict yet? Great. Since I have been through the tough and tedious task of finding acceptable t-shirts over the years, I thought I would share some of my favorite, budget-friendly brands. These are in no particular order:
//Mossimo Supply Co. brand from Target. These come in V-neck or scoop neck. You can get them with a pocket or without. Their are tons of styles to choose from, the fabric is really soft, and best of all...they are usually on some type of offer. (Right now they are 3 for $20!) Another one of my current faves is this tie-dye one.
//Old Navy boyfriend tees.  Again, there is a nice variety of styles, colors, and patterns to choose from. It's usually best to size down with these, since they do run so loose. (Hence the "boyfriend" name.) These are usually on sale too!
//Sonoma Life and Style brand from Kohl's.  I feel like most people view Sonoma as a somewhat "elderly" brand for some reason. This is not true at all. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it has become my favorite clothing brand over the years. Everything they make is simple and comfortable and has a very natural/slightly bohemian feel to it. They always have a wide variety of t-shirt fits and styles to choose from, and they are awesome at giving simple things a different touch.
What item of clothing is essential to your wardrobe? Have you spent a lot of time over the years trying to find the "perfect one?"  
Happy Wednesday, and if you celebrated the 4th of July yesterday, I hope it was a great one!
P.S. This isn't sponsored in any way...I just really love t-shirts.


Happy 4th

Wishing you and yours a safe and fun Independence Day! 

See ya on Wednesday!
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