Hello Monday

Monday, September 28, 2020

Hello Monday and hello everyone! These are our last couple of days of September and by the end of the week we will be into October. I am linking up today with Heather, Tanya, Lindsay, and more right here.

I had a very full weekend. What about you?

Friday our favorite band was playing at the little pizza place at the marina on the river. We asked a couple if they wanted to join us and they did. The girls got frozen bellinis and they were so good!

The guys. Tom likes to give me that look for pictures and it is so annoying!

We split the barbecue pizza. We were hungry so the photo came after we dug in!

The music ended at 8:30 because we had a city curfew Wednesday night-last night.

Saturday I ran some errands and did some stuff around the house and then we had a memorial service to go to. I obviously do not have any photos. It was really sad and emotional. Masks were required but it was also open air.

Then, that evening it was time to celebrate the birthday of my college roommate. She chose a restaurant that used to be a gas station. The walls were open and the air was flowing.

All three gals chose a different fancy cocktail. I got something with Aperol and tequila. It was strong!

Three of us ordered the salmon on a bed of grits with vegetables and it was amazing.

We stood close to get a quick photo. I ordered a new fall kimono that I will show you Wednesday. The birthday girl is on the right and we roomed together for most of college and then for four years after college. We met our other friend the first day of college I think! Our dream came true a few years ago when we all were living in the same city again, finally!

Sunday I got a slow start. Around 12, Tom, Ernie, and I went out on the boat for a couple of hours. It was really cloudy and a bit cool.

We came home and I rested on the patio for a bit and then got a text that the birthday girl and her husband were going out to dinner on their boat so we went and met them.

Crazy, right? So we boated for about an hour and then ate dinner outside at their marina.

So, it was really full! And, I was really grateful for some quality time with friends. I gifted my friend the softest camo leggings from a local boutique and two pairs of earrings. I love giving gifts! I forgot to get a photo of her gifts!

What was the highlight of your weekend?

This week is supposed to get really cold around here and we are expecting some rain. I have a four day week! Students are off Friday and Monday and we are off just Friday with Monday for Parent-Teacher conferences – virtual, of course.

Thanks for reading!

Amy

Friday Favorites

Friday, September 25, 2020

How was your week? Mine was pretty good! I did not leave my house Monday at 3:00 or Tuesday at 3:00 as has been my habit. So, I did not use my car from Sunday until Wednesday! At 3:00 I went out and read in the wonderful weather on my patio and I think it was a good change of pace. I had no pressing errands to run. I came in both days around 5:00 to cook dinner. I may have dozed off on the patio between 3:00 and 5:00, too. I also talked on the phone to some friends so that was nice, too!

I am linking up today with Andrea, etc. right here.

Here are some faves and things that made me happy this week! What made you happy?

I am super picky about my coffee and my creamer. I use a Keurig and love, love, love the Costco Kirkland breakfast blend K cups. I also love Kroger hazelnut. I cannot live without my Dunkin Donuts creamer. It is so good. It enabled me to stop adding a sweetener to my coffee a few years ago. I have two cups each morning and really measure out the serving size for my creamer.

I took a chance on this Chobani Pumpkin Spice and I really like it! It is a light pumpkin flavor.

I have had an afternoon coffee a couple of days this week and for a little treat, I can put a bit of whip cream with the Chobani and sprinkle a bit of pumpkin pie spice.

I filled up my candy again like a Grandma! No offense to grandmas; it is a compliment!

I used my lights one evening this week. Hub says he wants to change these out and string more lights. These are pretty large and intense and I think we want to do something a bit softer. This kind of things makes me so happy.

Last Saturday I told you about my hometown trip, but I did not show you what I found. There are a bunch of cute little shops and I found these in one of them. This is a bourbon shot glass or measuring cup I guess. I thought it was so cute. They had tequila, vodka, and many more. I also bought this lip gloss that smells amazing – like cherry Chapstick.

Last week I went to Trader Joes to look for fall themed things for my charcuterie board. Fall is the time to go! There were so many goodies. I really like my pack of Old Navy masks so I wanted to recommend them again. They have adjustable ear straps and the material is thick enough but still breathable.

And, I forgot to tell you about our bagel and farm market date two weeks ago. Hub is really good about going along with my ideas – most of the time. We got bagels and found a fountain with a little table then walked to the farm market to look around. I was happy to do that together!

I polished my nails one day this week with Essie Smokin Hot. It is like a grey/brown color.

I have been filling in my wardrobe staples for fall and I needed the no show socks to go with my Madewell sneakers from the spring. I am really happy with these. You can find them here.

It is so easy to get down right now. I think we are all embracing fall even more than we ever have before – if that is even possible. I sent this quote to my sons – one of them is a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald. He is my English major son!

We have not been told what school will look like after October 6. There is a school board meeting next week to vote on the decision. I think we will be home for a bit longer, just due to the numbers in our area and the fact that our district is so large.

My sons seem to be doing well with masks and their mixture of in person, online and hybrid classes at college. Their college has a dashboard that shows how many positives, how many are in isolation, etc. They will be taking mid-term exams soon and they are set to move home November 20th. I am worried about them having to move home earlier if there is a break out, I am worried about the elections, I am worried about potential violence in my city, I am worried about being an effective teacher in this climate, and I am worried about my loved ones staying healthy and safe.

I know you are worried, too. I am trying to be thankful for the blessings and to think about what I can do now and not what I cannot do.

What were your favorites this week? How are you doing?

Amy

Apple Butter

Thursday, September 24, 2020

What is apple butter? Is it butter? No, not at all!

The finished product:

It is more like an overcooked applesauce or apple jam. It is delicious on bread or biscuits and maybe even pancakes or waffles? It would make a great gift in a cute little mason jar.

My first memory of apple butter is from my Girl Scout troop. Our leader had us come to her house to make it when I was maybe 10? I sure hope I got a badge!

This time, I didn’t get a badge but I was sure proud of myself and my house smelled amazing all day long while I was toiling away behind my computer for my virtual teaching. I have now made it twice; I tried it again this week on Monday while I was working.

I used all honeycrisp the first time and did not take the peel off.

The second time I used a mixture of honeycrisp and fuji and did take the skin off. It takes a lot of apples to make a small amount of apple butter. I halved the recipe and used about 7 apples and only produced about a cup of apple butter!

Here is the recipe:

In your crockpot,

put 5 lbs. apple of your choice, chopped

1 and 1/2 c. brown sugar

1 and 1/2 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Cook for 10 hours on low or 4 hours on high

I stirred several times and mine did not take nearly 10 hours on low. I would say it was ready in more like 4-6 hours. Also, I used a liner and I felt like the liner did not hold up to this liquid. I will do it without the liner next time.

Allow to cool. Will last for 2 weeks in fridge.

This is about halfway through. I stirred often and kind of mashed it up when it was close to done.

Have you ever made your own apple butter?

Amy

What I Wore Wednesday – Fall Staples and a Guest Appearance

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I am linking up today with The Style Six so go here to see more fashion posts and I am linking up here for the fall link up with Emily and Sarah where today their theme is fall fashion!

I am having fun wearing my early fall clothing. I realized I needed some staples. I love a v neck t-shirt. I mentioned buying these last week and one of my readers wanted to see which ones I picked.

Target A New Day white v-neck t-shirt below. I sized up and am really happy with the fit. This is super soft.

Same shirt in burgundy. I really like this color. It is my school color and the college color of my boys, too!

Old Navy olive green linen blend. This is not as soft but it hides flaws a little better due to the material. I also sized up one in this.

These will work and already have worked under my kimonos and my cardigans.

So, I have a confession – I have been wearing exercise bottoms for my 11:00 a.m. walk and business/teaching attire on the top. When it is time for my walk I change shirts and then change back after my lunch break!

Old Navy sleeveless blouse with Lularoe kimono – All are old.

Sunday boat outfit. Old camo sleeveless dress and new Target Universal Thread cardigan.

Hometown day trip outfit: Old Matilda Jane consignment pants, MIA Sofia clogs, new embroidered blouse, and Target Universal Thread cardigan.

My sister is my guest appearance! She is wearing DSW BOC brand clogs, Meijer patchwork jeans from a couple of years ago (smart purchase as these are super trendy now!), design t-shirt, and drapey jacket. I thought she looked great and comfortable! I ordered her shoes for me! They were on sale for $40.

Old Matilda Jane pants from consignment, new embroidered blouse, and Target Universal Thread cardigan, with Old consignment Birkenstocks.

New Amazon Umgee sweater – you guys, I loved it! It is so soft and the perfect weight, black capri pants and black tee. I got fully dressed this day for a meeting with my principal.

My other new Umgee item from Amazon. I love this fall kimono and this is why I wanted the new white v-neck t-shirt.

And, finally just my new embroidered top to teach in sitting at my computer with my blue light blockers on.

I am trying to have fewer items in my closet but more items that I love. This goes against my bargain shopper nature, but I am working on it! I also know I need staple items. These are not especially fun to buy but without them you cannot put an outfit together, you know?

What are you wearing lately? Have you made the switch from summer to fall? I put all my white things away and anything that looked super summery. I know the white thing is not a big deal anymore but I wear so much white in the summer that I am ready to say adiós and move on. Over the last couple of years I have been looking for fall colors in lighter weights for this time of year. It has helped a lot!

Thanks for visiting me!

Amy

Empty Nest Grocery Shopping

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

So, we have been empty nesters for a bit over a month. If you are new here I have twin boys who just started their freshman year of college. Just like we went from zero to two kids we also went from two kids to zero. Wah! It is still surreal that it all happened so fast!

During March through August I felt like I spent soooo much money at the grocery and I know I am not the only one that felt that way, right? I was doing so much more cooking than normal and we were eating almost all of our meals at home. My grocery bill was $1000-$1200 a month I think (I must admit I did not track it very well)! So, after we packed the boys up, I set a goal to only spend $500 a month with just the two of us here.

Here is how I did from August 15-September 15:

Kroger $170 – I really do not know what happened. It was my first time shopping in person instead of doing Kroger pick up. I found new products and I was buying some things for my first care package to drop off for the boys. Plus, I had run out of a lot of staple items or had put off buying things until after we got the boys situated.

Kroger $70 – the next week I just filled in and did not need as much

Trader Joe’s – $60

Kroger $140 but only paid $40 – had rewards checks – yippee!

Fresh Market $25 – just needed/wanted a few things

Kroger $90 – but had $41.10 in coupons (more rewards checks and a valuable coupon) – so only spent $48.90.

Kroger $25

Paul’s Fruit Market $20

Grand Total for first empty nest month = $458.90

I was really happy and proud! But, honestly, I think I should be able to spend even less once I figure out what we really need in a week. I have not done really well with meal planning because I am busy with school.

Shopping now: a little tiny can of beans. Womp, womp. So sad and small in my palm.

I have never seen my fridge so empty. It was a good time to clean it out. I am also still really working hard on less food waste. We did not need two gallons of milk. I had a coupon to get a free box of cereal with two gallon of milk purchase. Bad idea.

A couple of meals we have eaten lately:

tortilla soup with little grilled ham and cheese on sourdough

oven baked cajun tilapia, corn, asparagus, half a baked potato.

Strawberry salad – grilled chicken, spinach, goat cheese, strawberries, sunflower seeds

I am hoping to do more soups soon.

What have you been eating lately?

Do you think your grocery bill went up during the pandemic?

Thanks for reading!

Amy

Hello Monday?

Monday, September 21, 2020

I am putting a question mark today because how is it already Monday and I am just not sure I am ready for a 5 day week. I am linking up with Heather, Tanya and many more today here.

Let’s go back to Friday. I finally settled into a better work groove last week and it felt great. I treated myself to a benedictine and bacon sandwich from Paul’s Fruit Market at lunchtime and took it out to the patio to read during my lunch. The weather was beautiful and my eyes needed time away from the screen. Paul’s Fruit Market is a little produce place really close to my house with a sandwich shop, butcher, gourmet food, and more. Benedictine is a cucumber cream cheese spread with green food coloring.

I am reading a cute book right now! A dog walker mixes up two basset hounds and then their owners have to meet to get their dogs back.

I worked after lunch and I made sure I was all ready to go for Monday. It was a great feeling!

I made a fall charcuterie board for Tom’s arrival home around 5:30. His company sent him home with a “grilling box” because they couldn’t have the annual company picnic. The boxes had four hot dogs, four burger patties, all the condiments and buns, and 4 twice baked potatoes. I love his company and they are so good to their employees.

So, we grilled and ate outside with

a fire and our nightly show! It was a lovely Friday empty nester night. But, you guys, we were having lots of little fire pit fires back in April and May and I just had flashbacks and thoughts of “we are still doing this”… I think it’s the changing of the seasons that really gives you pause. We started this life in spring and couldn’t possibly imagine it going through summer. Then summer came and we were still doing it, and now it will officially be fall tomorrow.

Saturday morning one of my sisters had gotten a plan together to meet in my hometown to celebrate my mom’s birthday – just the three daughters and my mom. Usually we have kids around which is great, but this was just adults – and no husbands.

My sister cleaned out her mini van for us and we all masked up and hopped in.

I am from a really cute little town in southern Indiana called Madison. It is only an hour drive for me. One of my sisters lives in central Indiana and has a two hour drive and the other lives in Columbus, Ohio and has a three hour drive.

Beautiful flowers.

We ate out on the sidewalk at a little soup and sandwich place.

I had a mushroom panini.

My sister laughed hysterically because I bumped into a mannequin and her thumb came off.

We ended our afternoon at this winery.

They let me bring a charcuterie board – my Friday night board was the trial run for this one!

And, we visited our Dad and placed pennies there for him.

Sunday Tom and I had an empty nester day date. We took the boat to lunch. Look at those skies!

Mimosa for me.

And, we split a salad and a wrap. I only got a photo of the salad.

And, after we boated I read on the patio and we had leftovers for dinner.

It was a very full weekend and I really stepped away from the screens which was much needed!

How was your weekend?

Amy

Friday Favorites

Friday, September 18, 2020

Happy Friday! Finally, in my 6th week of work and my 4th week of virtual teaching I feel that I have found a groove. Go back and read my post from yesterday if you took Thursday off. I did a post about my tips for working from home. Maybe some of it applies to work/home life balance in general, too. Thank you for all the kind responses!

I am linking up today with Andrea, etc. so go here for more of my favorite day of the week posts about all the things that made us happy this week! Life is still hard and we need all the positive we can get right now.

Here are my faves of the week!

So, I have not done anything else with my bedroom decor since I showed it to you several months ago but this little spider plant from Trader Joes is doing really well. I also love the little table I picked up at TJ Maxx in March. I water it every four days or so and give it sunlight by opening the blinds most days. I may need to give her a bigger pot?

She makes me so happy! I have heard plants like names and to be talked to and they also like music. My plants in the mudroom seem to like the noise of the washer and dryer – ha!

Ernie knows when it is 11:00 a.m. now. His Daddy walks him at 6:15 and then his Mommy walks him at 11. We walk to my school and it is bittersweet because a school is not a school without the students. The weather has been so pretty this week. I wish I could bottle up this weather for all of you. Kentucky in September can be so glorious. Sunny, blue skies, and 70-80 degree highs with lots of breeze.

Lisa from Coast to Coast and a few others mentioned these bars so I picked up the apple flavor for September. They are a perfect mid morning snack. Thanks to all who suggested!

And, I picked these up from Target. They are hard cookies but really have a good light pumpkin flavor.

These plates just make me so happy. I bought this set several years ago from Target. I have four with leaves and four with pumpkins.

I put this creepy nightlight in the hall bathroom for my nightly trip. Tom thinks it is weird. But, I like it! Here is a great hack. I always get anxious that I left something plugged in. Take a photo of your plug before leaving the house. Anxious no mo’! You could do the same with a photo of your oven.

Is jam your jam? I couldn’t help myself. This is around $3 and change and really good – dare I say better than a home cook’s jam? Notice it is “intense”. You can handle it.

Like many people I started watching The Home Edit. I like it but I also don’t know what I think about emptying food stuffs into containers. Anyone else? They have to spend a fortune in containers, too. People just have too much crap.

Tuesday afternoon brought a patio drink and snack with my old teaching bestie. We taught next door for 17 years until she moved on to greener pastures closer to her home. She is great about asking me to get together. She had a peach bourbon drink and I had an orange margarita that was delish.

Look at that morning temp!

During one of our walks this week I was admiring the leaves in the yard of a neighbor. It is starting to look a lot like fall.

Lisa from Coast to Coast and Kellyann from This Blonde’s Shopping Bag I believe have both recommended these wireless earbuds. For $16 I think they are pretty great. I have never had the real deal, but I am enjoying these. Thanks, gals!

If you have ever wanted airpods but didn’t want to pay that much, I think you might like these.

What were your favorites this week?

Happy Friday and happy weekend and as always, thank you for reading. You are my favorites every day of the week!

Amy

My “Rules” for Working from Home

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Hello! It is almost the weekend!

I am not an expert on this topic by any means, but I have learned some things that work for me and I wanted to share them. Please share your tips, advice in the comments!

First a little backstory: I am a high school Spanish teacher. I never, ever, ever wanted to work from home. I never thought I ever would! But, I worked from home in the months of April and May and now I find myself working mostly from home since the beginning of August. I did go in to teach in my classroom without any students the first two days of school but it was sad and lonely and uncomfortable. I may try it again but we have kind of a crazy schedule and it would involve me bringing my equipment back and setting it up again. I did go in for lunch with colleagues one day and that was nice!

Do not start working immediately. I still make time for my coffee and slow morning routine. I get up earlier to be able to do this.

Leave a list for yourself at the end of each working day. This enables me to stress less and know that I will not forget a task. I start work each morning by tackling the list.

Do not check email before you are ready to start work. I found that one out the hard way. The minute I check email I am in work mode.

Use the alarms on your phone. I was worried I would forget something because we have an odd schedule. The alarms really help. Maybe even set an alarm to STOP working!

Keep a big thing of water at your workstation.

If you can actually go to a workstation in your house it is better. Shut the door when not working. Only go to that area when you are working. It helps delineate the home life from work life. My station is now at my basement desk.

I am using a desktop and a laptop. Work smarter not harder sometimes. Find what works for you. Develop a routine.

Take breaks for meals and do not eat at your desk. Take a walk. It is hard to sit in front of a computer all day. I am even meal prepping so that I know I have a meal ready.

Stop working! Still do things you enjoy. I am reading less but I am still reading.

Turn off notifications or the sound on your computer. Check and respond to email in batches instead of all day long. When I take a break, I turn off the sound on my computer so I am not disturbed by an email coming in.

Other things I did/do:

I turned off Google Classroom notifications on my phone.

I took work email off of my phone.

Take shower at night to make mornings more streamlined. I did a whole post about this!

My Workday Schedule:

5:30 or 6:00-7:15 – 2 cups of coffee, devotional, blog reading, news watching, kitchen cleanup and piddling and breakfast making and eating

7:15 – Tom leaves for work and I get ready – only need 15 minutes due to night shower

7:30 – Sign in and start working and teaching live classes

11:00- walk

11:30 – lunch

12:15-3- Work – live classes, grading, planning, etc.

3- run an errand

relax with book or t.v., cook dinner, eat dinner, do a little more work, relax

10:15 (so late for me!)- Bed

It took me a while to get to a schedule that is working fairly well for me.

What is working for you if you work from home? Any tips for me?

Amy

What I Wore Wednesday and Recent Purchases

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Hello! I have been so excited to show you some things! But, go see Emily and others at http://www.alittlebitofemily.blogspot.com for her fall link up. Today the topic is fall decor but I already showed you mine last week on Labor Day!

I ordered and returned several things in the month of August and early September, sadly. I cannot think of a time in my life where I have bought so little! Seriously, from March-September I have added very little to my wardrobe.

On a whim a couple of weekends ago, I went into a local boutique that is usually too expensive for my blood. But, am I being too cheap? I need to make better purchases and I am improving. I avoid sale racks because they are bad for me. I end up buying things just because of the price. This time, however, I found something that made my heart sing.

Meet my new blouse for $25.

Then, I went to the non-sale area and found her cousin! I am in love! I know they are summery but I thought a jean jacket or cardigan could extend their wearability. I had never heard of the brand Savanna Jane.

I am not always happy with Amazon clothing. I get excited and I order because a blogger told me to and then I realize it was a bad purchase (for me) and I return it.

Recently, I was typing with my blogging friend Jen and we were typing about kimonos. I told her to look at the brand Umgee which is on Amazon and also in many of my local boutiques. Well, Jen, I looked for myself and I fell in love! I would say these run big so you may want to go down a size. The kimono is pretty roomy but I am going to try to style it soon.

And, I also found this! I figured I could wear a tank or short sleeve under it now and a long sleeve later.

So, I am only trying to buy things that make my heart sing. I am thrilled with my four above purchases.

Amanda of That Inspired Chick is always posting great deals on Facebook. I took a chance on this set that had a 50% off coupon and got all of these really nice quality earrings for $8! I would recommend the set even if you have to pay $16. Here is the set. I have already worn one of these pairs every day!

Seriously, I am not exaggerating. I have been looking for new cardigans for at least 5 years. I am picky. It has to be right material, feel, weight, length, bulkiness, etc. I think I have found my unicorn. Target Universal Thread does it again.

I actually love the detail here with the stitching.

Here is a close up of the weave I think you call it.

Here is a photo of the length on me. I am 5 foot 4 inches.

I bought the sweater in eggplant (shown), olive, rust, and cream you guys! It is $25. I plan to throw one over many of my tops for fall. Here is the sweater. It is in stores, too, but I predict it will go quickly so get your desired colors and sizes now.

This is what I wore to hear music Friday night. MIA clog sandals from last summer, Matilda Jane green pants (old from consignment), and Steinmart poncho like top that is two years old.

Here is what I wore to lunch on the patio at the mediterranean place with my friend. Wit and Wisdom jeans, MIA clog sandals, consignment gauzy top from maybe 3 years ago.

Here is what I wore for my boys’birthday lunch.

Here is another kimono virtual teaching outfit.

I also purchased v-neck tees in white and burgundy from Target A New Day collection. They are super soft! I purchased an olive linen blend v-neck from Old Navy.

I feel like I am set for early fall with the exception of shoes!

What have you purchased for early fall?

What have you been wearing?

Should I post on Thursdays? It seems to be the day many bloggers take a break.

Amy

Fall Lips – Drugstore Style

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Do you change your makeup with the seasons? I need a lighter foundation and I change my lip colors. I am currently trying not to buy new makeup until I have used up what I have. I have a lot of things left from my Ipsy subscription that I haven’t had for two years! Plus, I just have a lot of product. It’s easy to accumulate makeup and beauty products because it is fun to buy.

Today I want to show you three lip colors that I used last year and that I still love this year.

Top to Bottom:

Goldpearl Plum by Revlon (Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick)

Spice for Me by Maybelline

Plum Velour by Revlon (Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick)

Here are some super weird and not that great photos of my lips:

Goldpearl Plum

Spice for Me

Plum Velour

What do you think of these colors?

Even though this lipstick needs to be re-applied and is not long wearing formula, I really like the consistency and it doesn’t dry out my lips. Sometimes the good old original formula can’t be beat. You can pick all these up for about the price of a latte (with tip).

Are there any fall colors I should try?

Are we wearing lipstick right now? I am. I am wearing it to do virtual classes to brighten up my face. I am even sometimes wearing it under the mask if I will be taking mask off at some point.

Amy