Sunday, June 19, 2016

The countdown.

Probably exactly one year ago today. Father's Day in Frankenmuth.

Five weeks left of school. Five weeks left of school. Five weeks left of school.

Five weeks is nothing, but when you were bred in the American school system where having enough time to fit in multiple sessions of sleep away summer camp is a national priority - it still feels like too much.

Despite my eagerness for the summer holidays, it also feels so strange for this school year to be coming to an end. Just five months ago I was walking into my very first day there with (let's be honest) no real idea what was about to come at me. Now here I am, five weeks away, saying goodbye to the ones that taught me how to do my job and thinking about how I can transfer that to the ones that I will have next year.

Five weeks looks a bit daunting from my current perspective, but I know that it is going to fly by in a whirlwind of final exam papers, prom dresses, enrichment day activities and weekend school trips. Then there is the extracurricular stuff - summer parties, wedding events, family gatherings - and Netflix has just released the new season of Orange Is The New Black, soooo there's that.

On top of all of this, if you didn't know, the Euros are on at the moment - which basically means that all things come to a screeching halt at random points during the week in the name of football. 

There was a big England-Wales match on Thursday at 2pm and in order to accommodate this our school shortened all lessons by ten minutes, so that we could finish the school day early and put the match on a projector screen in the main hall. It was a bit chaotic and the students were difficult to control. A group of Year 8s stormed the stage at the end when England scored the winning goal in the final two minutes. 

To be fair, it was a good match.

Five weeks to go and a lot to reflect on. This time last year I was: 

- taking the kids that I nannied for to play at the splash pad in the park
- desperately searching for a day coordinator for the wedding
- trying to figure out whether or not my husband would be allowed into the country in order to attend said wedding
- spending Father's Day with my family in Frankenmuth, Michigan
- borrowing books from the Grand Blanc library and making regular stops at Ziggy's for ice cream
- lying out by the pool in our apartment complex for probably one of the most dedicated tanning seasons I've had in years
- enjoying life...

...just like I am now and yet so much is so different.

Five weeks to go and I am going to do my very best to make the most of them. 


Sunday, June 12, 2016


"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely of places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
                                                                           - Roald Dahl

Iceland. Finally. A trip that we have been dreaming of for years was able to come together thanks to time, opportunity, and our wonderful travel companions. Iceland has been gaining in popularity as a tourist destination in recent years and it is so easy to see why. 

Iceland. The land of black sand and waterfalls. A tiny country whose glaciers and volcanos have written history and sculpted the earth. Where puffins roost in the cliffs and lambs frolic in the fields, and you can walk, drive, or swim between tectonic plates. The landscape seems ancient, the sky hand-painted, and the mood ever-shifting with the clouds and the sun.

Icy winds and steaming pools. The muted grays and greens of the fields punctuated by brightly painted houses. Tangible science and unearthly beauty. Iceland is a realm of contradictions perfectly blended into a harmonious balance of fact and fiction that is embodied by the culture of its inhabitants.

Many choose to visit for the geology and that has a majesty all of its own, but you do not need to understand the workings of the Earth in order to appreciate what Iceland has to offer. 

If you've ever dreamt of floating away on a cloud, if you've ever wished that you could be sucked into a storybook land, if you believe in magic - then Iceland is for you.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

"Everything man sees...

...he takes for a toy."

This book was recommended to me a few weeks ago by a fellow fiction-loving friend. Coincidentally, I had already purchased The Miniaturist from a local charity shop, and so I resolved to read it as soon as I had the chance. 

The novel is about Petronella; a young and newly married girl living in 17th century Amsterdam and learning about the dark complexities of life. The story is unique and immediately engaging, exactly as I was promised.

As ever, the opportunities that I have for quiet reading and reflection are few and far between, but each time I manage to find a moment, The Miniaturist greets me like an old friend - familiar and exciting all at once, as if I'd never set it down.

Also this week.

Birthdays. I am 28. My students were shocked to learn this. Thanking my family for the genes that allow me to produce such astonishment.

Moving on. Beginnings, endings, and the underlying panic of suddenly finding oneself in the midst of a long-awaited transition.

Spring. Flowers. Alternating brilliant sunshine and rainy chill. The persistent itch of hay fever.

Looking forward to all that is on the horizon.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Springtime and an abundance of tulips.

Springtime and an abundance of tulips. 

Kitchen pitchers overflowing with the richest of colors, stolen from garden slopes or allotment rows. Each stage of their bloom is as compelling as the last, each wilting phase as inspiring. 

In every moment lies a vivid beauty.

Hold fast to the ones you Love.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Superproductive Saturday.

Last weekend, in an attempt to break the exhausted and monotonous cycle that has characterized my free time as of late, I determined to have a Superproductive Saturday. Just one, non-work day that involved more than what has been my recent routine of sleep-wake-coffee-Netflix-sleep. I don't know about you, but I tend to find that the busier I am, the more I accomplish and the better I feel at the end of the day.

The day got off to a good start with a run, as evidenced by my tired-looking face and workout wear. I won't bore you by listing all of my proud accomplishments (hint, one of them involved a whole lotta laundry), but I will say that the day was a rousing success. 

I will also share the recipe for the cookies that I baked, which are fun and delicious and absolutely made my whole week.

Smitten Kitchen's Ugly-But-Good Cookies

Ingredients at the ready! Chocolate, sugar and toasted hazelnuts. 

The words "Mint Julep" were accidentally transferred onto the countertop by a cocktail label after a recent 20s themed birthday party at our house. We haven't made any huge efforts to scrub it off.

Ugly-but-good looking mixture.


Mmmmm. Mixey.

Another accomplishment. I also made an entire Snapchat story about baking these cookies.[I'm mandagr2 if you're a fan of the Snap] Maybe not that big of a deal except that this was only the second time that I have ever posted anything on Snapchat and the first time that I have posted multiple videos. 

Tangent. I have a love/hate relationship with Snapchat. I finally downloaded it a little over a year ago because I wanted in on the funny videos that my siblings were posting of each other. For a while I looked at it every day, then every few days, then barely at all, until I finally deleted it because I resented the space that it was taking up on my phone. I re-downloaded it recently, after a few hilarious face swapping experiences and I decided that there could be no better day to get the most out of my activity and to try something new than my Superproductive Saturday. The experience was definitely satisfying. I'm still not sure how I feel about Snapchat. I might just delete it again soon.

Crispy, chewy, chocolate-hazelnut meringue goodness.

Perfect with a cup of coffee.

Wish-of-the-week: May you find the motivation that increases your productivity, allows you to feel accomplished, and brings you back to the activities that make you feel alive :)


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

ABS - always be skiing.

That is not photo editing, that is whiteout fog, which we spent our last two days in.

Everyone has those yearly, winter traditions - things that we do with our loved ones, that create lasting memories and give us something to look forward to every year.

For me these traditions include, but are not limited to: snow fort building; carol singing; ice skating; baking copious amounts of cookies; chatting over cucumber slices, pasta with home-made sauce, and braunschweiger balls; watching (and quoting along to) the film, The Wedding Singer and every year, EVERY YEAR refusing to join my family at the local ski hill.

I say "hill" because we have a distinct lack of altitude in Michigan. Despite this fact, people are so enticed by the ski season thrill that they will fling themselves off of any bump and, ignoring everything they learned in geography, call it a "mountain". 

Every year, I was invited to go skiing and every year I turned it down. At first, I think, I was a little nervous (the people who I would have learned with have a pretty rough-and-tumble, no pain, no gain kind of attitude towards life, which, frankly, I avoided at all costs), but as time went on I sincerely just stopped caring. 

I would go ice skating and sledding and put myself in all manner of precarious positions involving a moderate risk of bodily harm, but for whatever reason skiing never held any interest for me. As I got older, I became busier with other activities and the fact that skiing doesn't come cheap became yet another reason to just not even bother. 

In all of my 27 years of life, I have never been motivated to break with this winterly tradition....until this year. 

I don't know whether it happened because the offer of a ski holiday was extended during our honeymoon travels, when we were free and roving and wanderlust drunk, or simply because the notion of a whole week spent in fabulous company, surrounded by the-hills-are-alive-worthy scenery was just too much to pass up. 

I really don't know what happened, but somehow, someway, someone convinced me that I needed to go on a ski holiday.

And I luuuuurved it! 


It probably helped that I took to the actual skiing bit pretty readily. A few of us chipped in for a personal instructor, which really eased the learning curve. We were doing red runs by the end of our third day, which I could never have even visualized on our first.

I fell down a whole lot too, but weirdly, while I originally thought I would feel embarrassed about it, in the end I didn't mind. It was such a normal and happy feeling to be stacking it in the snow, something that I haven't really had the chance to do since my university days - it reminded me of my childhood. 

Immediately before falling most of the way down a red run. Loving life!

I'm not sure what my favorite part was - learning a new skill, eating Currywurst, or the ridiculous souvenir I took away from a disagreement with t-lift.

Looks not unlike an upside-down pickaxe attached to a stretchy rope.

Look, how easy!
Even a child can do it!


(that's Wills and Kate, by the way)


What actually happened was not that I fell over while riding the t-lift, but that I attempted to retrieve my dropped poles and was hit by a flinging bar as my friend exited the lift. 

Oddly, no one seems to have actually seen what happened, although I can 100% assure you that it did hit me. I have proof. Thank goodness for my sunglasses and helmet (always wear a helmet, people), which took the brunt of the hit and left me with an intact, albeit amusingly bruised cheek bone, which I took great pleasure in documenting for the rest of the trip.

Day 1
Day 2

Day 3
Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Basically a bruise model.

Honestly, it didn't hurt that badly and after a couple of days I sort of forgot that I even had it, and would only remember when people would do a double take or stare just a little too long. I am getting a little bored of it now, though, because it's going through the yellowish phase, leaving me with a look that is a little less badass and a little more sickly. 

My real luck lies in the fact that we have another week until school starts up again, which means plenty of time to chill and get stuff done, but also plenty of time for this thing to heal up a bit more before I have to present myself as a respectable adult in front of a bunch of merciless, image-obsessed teenagers...

Fingers crossed, people. Fingers crossed.

Love and a request for ultra healing vibes.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A dresser development.

After six-and-a-half years of living in the United Kingdom I am beyond thrilled to announce that I am the proud, new owner of....

my own chest of drawers!!!

Muwahahahaha! So. Much. Spaaaaace!

A bit much, you say? Ok. Fine. Maybe, but seriously after so many years of living out of suitcases this feels like a real victory. 

I mean, I was married before I had enough space for all of my stuff. How backward is that progression of events?!

Now I have so much room that I hardly know what to do with it all. In fact, the drawers are almost a bit too empty - even with all of my clothing neatly folded inside - which is something that I suspect would immediately call for a shopping spree for some, but for an organizational freak like me is practically a dream come true.

No, I am pleased with the exaggerated roominess, but now all I can think about is next steps - like all of that beautiful wall space directly above, which is just begging for a little TLC and a big ol' redesign.


To be continued!