Sunday, August 31, 2014

link love

Are Marvel and DC duking it out over a female audience?
The Nostalgia Machine lets you pick a year and listen to its music. I have been listening to 1999 all morning. And 97. And all of the 90s, basically.
♥ Science explains why we like old music better than everything else
♥ Stories like this break my heart — I got the message loud and clear: Reading isn't cool
♥ Gruesome perhaps, but a reality: Who owns your iTunes library and e-books after you die?
♥ It's a library cake!
♥ I dressed as a goth, a party girl, and a Manic Pixie Dream Girl — Here's how my friends, my partner, and OKCupid reacted
♥ I'm intrigued by this new (or is it, really?) Bullet Journal method of efficient planning, organizing, and making lists
A busy chai stand in India at 3:15 in the afternoon
♥ In Italy, there exists an archive of personal diaries
The Brave and Fluffy Cats Who Served in WWI - history! Cats!
♥ I dare you to not sing all of these phrases that have the same syllable count as the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" theme song
♥ The LA County Museum of Art is on Snapchat and killing it!
♥ This list of 25 authors who wrote great books before they were 25 makes me feel like a total underachiever!
Pop Sonnets (I'm convinced this is the single most amazing thing on the internet!)
Is there such a thing as an untranslatable word?
♥ My propensity for forgetting names instantly may have some basis to it. Why are names so easy to forget?
What we talk about when we talk about binge-reading

Find any fun links this week?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

The first week of school is well underway and I'm frantically trying to get things together for day 4 as I type this. So I'm keeping this all short & sweet!

♥ My moods are quite ridiculously impacted by the seasons, and I'm significantly calmer and more focused when the weather shifts into fall. I'm in my element with things like sweater and blankets and caramel pumpkin-scented candles. Coziness aside, the changing of the seasons always feels like a fresh start, and I'm happy to add bits and pieces of autumn into my day in some small way.

♥ It warms my heart to see some of the kids I had last year in the hallways throughout the day! My day is infinitely better when I hear a "Hello, Miss A!" from somewhere in the halls and see those kids whiz by, somehow a whole foot (or more) taller than they were 3 months ago. Dear Universe: What the heck. Where is my growth spurt?

little loves
♥ I won Kayly's Sailor Moon bookmark contest and have a little Sailor Mercury bookmark on its way! I think my books will be happy ♥ friends who will literally hold your hand and tell you it's all okay ♥ handwritten letters ♥ when what you're doing is apparently exciting/good enough that it makes people want to take a picture of it! ♥ working with many awesome teams ♥ jewel-tones and autumn colors ♥ warm candles ♥ being brave and doing what I need to do, even when it's terrifying ♥ when kids list 'fanfiction' as a genre on their class surveys ♥ the start of #30Lists!

What are you loving lately?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

NovelTea Book Club: Fangirl

When the NovelTea Book Club selected a Rainbow Rowell book for the month of August, I couldn't contain myself (even though I was hoping it would be Landline, so I could do reading double-duty)! Rowell has such a distinctively fun and witty style while still managing to tackle some pretty hard-hitting topics like unseemly and even abusive family relationships, and frankly, growing up.

You can watch the video below for my thoughts on Fangirl specifically, but I wouldn't be doing my review justice if I didn't bring up the fact that this novel centers around writing and fandom. Now, there are plenty of other themes that take center stage, or even pop up in the periphery, but to see a mainstream book discuss what it means to be part of a community that stems from a shared interest, especially in pop culture, warms my heart. Maybe because it's because I can relate so well to Cath, or maybe it's just the way Rowell sucks you into the characters and their quirks, their struggles. Regardless, the whole story just comes alive in Rowell's hands.
Being able to discuss everything from Cath's relationship with her sister to fanfiction's place in academia with the NovelTea book clubbers (members sounds really formal, but "book clubbers" sounds like we all go out to the club and wave novels in the air in time with pounding music and strobe lights) was the best part of reading this book again. There are so many little things I didn't pick up on the first time through, and being able to run those ideas past others and see that they had the same (and even different!) thoughts was wonderful!

It's funny, most people tend to pick a favorite out of Rowell's novels based on which characters they most identify with. At some point or another, I've identified with most of her protagonists, recalling moments in my life that just clicked. Fangirl is in the top two Rowell books for me, though I'm curious to see how attached I get to Landline.

Join us in September as we read Gail Carriger's Etiquette & Espionage!

What's your favorite Rainbow Rowell novel? 

30 Days of Lists Blog Hop: Meet the Blogger Behind My Life as a Teacup

#30Lists Blog Hop
If you pop by My Life as a Teacup on any given day, you'll be greeted with lists up to your eyeballs. Come by in March or September and your list intake will double — 30 Days of Lists rules my brain in those months, and I look forward to jazzing up the lists I make on a daily basis for the challenge (because let's face it, usually my lists end up on twelve different sticky notes across my monitor, and it's nice to make them pretty for a change).

While it's not quite time for September's round of #30Lists, the ambassadors and ladies behind the challenge have invited everyone to take part in a blog hop with the prompts of the March 2011 round! With so many new readers, I figured this would be a good time to re-introduce myself and tell you a little bit about the Teacup.

Without further ado...
#30Lists Blog Hop
A few things about myself:
  1. Currently, I'm a teacher by day, blogger by night. Teaching English — literature, writing, you name it — excites me and I get to put my organizational skills to use, too (though, at outward glance, it probably doesn't look like I'm the most organized; believe me, I know where everything is, though!). I tend to make references to The Avengers/Star Wars/Pokémon/etc. in my PowerPoint slides, because really, a presentation is worlds better with superheroes/spaceships in it.
  2. If I could, I would go back and get my English Literature degree all over again. They were some of the most challenge, rigorous, thought-provoking classes I've ever taken, and I saw myself grow as a writer, researcher, and intellectual like never before. As an undergraduate, I didn't necessarily have to choose a period as my department was more focused on a smattering of different eras of literature, but I tended to hover around the general realms of British Literature, William Blake, Gothic/Victorian Literature. And did I mention William Blake? 
  3. I hold my pens strangely enough that everyone who sees me comments on it. It ends up looking like a fist with the pen tucked into my pinky. I've only seen two other people hold a pen like this, and while I don't quite understand why we do it, I have to say, I've got neat and controlled handwriting. I even won a handwriting award in elementary school for it. Take that, teachers who gave me countless pencil grips to correct it!
  4. I am a morning person, through and through. While getting out of bed isn't necessarily easy, I'm at my best and most productive before 11:30am. I'm organized, making and breezing through to do lists (which is a whole other story; I'm a planner to the point of being incredibly stressed and unable to function if I don't), dreaming up my best ideas, and implementing things like a boss.
  5. It's impossible for me to pick a favorite novel. I blame this on the fact that, as a child, I couldn't pick a favorite stuffed animal because I didn't want to hurt the others' feelings. But really, I find it so hard to deem any book my all-time favorite because I have favorites for so many categories! Some books are well-written, some are just a story I can get lost in, others depict a rich fantasy world I'd love to live in, and a handful resonate poignantly. Don't ask me to choose.
  6. That said, I have a scar on my hand from a book. A hard-cover textbook from 8th grade, to be exact. But how many people can say they were in a fight with knowledge and knowledge won?
  7. I'm a recovering dancer. And by recovering I mean that even though I don't dance anymore, every time I have enough space I'm tempted to jeté across the room. I habitually stand in third position, even fifth or first at times, and that usually alerts other dancers in the vicinity that I am one of them. It's an addiction; I can't shake it. And frankly, standing that way is comfortable, though it seems to look unnatural to non-dancer folk. This is, in fact, how I met my best friend.
  8. Hockey is in my blood. I grew up in Pittsburgh surrounded by a grandfather, father, mother, uncles, aunts, and cousins who all play/watch/referee hockey. I've road tripped with a friend to see hockey games. I've stood in line in the freezing winter months for student rush tickets. I've been whisked onto the ice as a kid by the Penguins' mascot, Iceburgh. I've played in family holiday pick-up games. I've had embarrassing moments where I've cried during the playoffs. In fact, it's hard to hang out with me during playoff season unless you craft outings around hockey games. I try to keep the simultaneous emotions/rantiness in check here on the blog (Twitter is really the culprit), but I can't make promises. Especially during the playoffs.
  9. I was nominated "most artistic" in my high school yearbook. I don't think I've done anything artistic since graduation, but I did paint my dad's Father's Day gift last year. I've missed painting, and am trying to do it more these days.
  10. I lived in Japan for three months back in college while I was studying Japanese as my second major. I keep meaning to write about it more on the blog, as it was such a huge part of my life, but haven't gotten to it yet. I always loved and had a knack for foreign languages, and fell in love with Japanese early on. I wanted to study it, even if only for personal reasons, and was elated when I had the chance to go. I stayed in Hakodate (a small town on Hokkaido) and immersed myself in family life, local festivals, taiko, trains, sightseeing, and a whole manner of other things. But my favorite part? Just getting to do things like a local would, like visiting the local bakery, taking the bus to school, and going to the konbini. Whenever I travel, I hate feeling like a tourist, and getting to "live" in the country I love is one of the things I look back on most fondly.
And a bonus: I'm confident I could live on cheese alone. Is there anything that cheese isn't good on/with? I didn't think so.

You can still register for September's of 30 Days of Lists — come and join us!

Visit the other bloggers participating to pump yourself up for September (which is just a few days away!) and don't forget to explore the community as everyone is getting their feet wet today! A few to check out:

Tell me about yourself! What are 3 things about you I should know?

I'm an ambassador and affiliate for 30 Days of Lists, but having participated in the list every year since its initial iteration, it's safe to say that I'm 110% behind this challenge! If you like being crafty or making lists, I think you'll enjoy it too!

Monday, August 25, 2014

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.118

( via Keiichi Inoue ) 

pander v. [ˈpan-dər]: to provide what someone wants or demands; to cater to (via)

The plotless movie pandered to its audience of males who just wanted to watch people drive fast cars and things explode.

For the Love of a Linguaphile is a weekly series celebrating the snazzy words we encounter, from those found in great literary works, to those pesky words that keep popping up in everyday life. Hopefully you can incorporate a new word into your vocabulary, or even share one of your favorite words!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

link love

If there's one thing you do today, watch this:

It's so important that I'm putting it first.

♥ Kyla Roma always posts the most thoughtful and motivational nuggets. Except that they're not nuggets; they're long. And I love that they're long. -er, at least. Notes to My Younger Self is no exception.
♥ YA Authors Sort Their Own Characters Into Hogwarts Houses (adorable doodles ahead)
♥ Editing can be a pain. Here's why. And really, after all the fun of actually writing, I can't blame that train of thought (but I'm the weirdo who likes editing, ha!)
♥ How to be a beginner again (and why it's really a good thing!), because acknowledging that you're a beginner, and treating yourself as such can be tough.
♥ Mo’ Neopoints, Mo’ Problems: How That Website We Liked As Kids Became An Economist’s Nightmare 
♥ This is always relevant, but in light of what has happened recently, more powerful than ever: O Captain! My Captain! What Dead Poets Society Taught Me About Writing
♥ An insightful article on gender-flipping geek icons and geek icon canon (NSFW - language)
Soon your computer screen will correct your vision (seriously!? How awesome would this be!?)
♥ Yes & Yes runs a series of personal anecdotes, and the latest — True story: I'm a nun — is absolutely fascinating!
14 Books That Change When You Reread Them Later In Life
Games for girls? How about games for everyone? Fun story, I actually heard a comment made last week that meant no harm, but implied that essentially "only kids play Minecraft and adults don't get that kind of thing". I play Minecraft. I am an adult. I get it.
The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami
♥ A look at Russian suburbs
♥ The Harry Potter universe just keeps growing! Rowling recently added a bio for singer Celestina Warbeck and a song!

Find any fun links this week?

Friday, August 22, 2014

6 Tips For New Teachers

School starts on Monday.

You read that right. Monday.

For many of you, that probably doesn't mean a thing. For me, that means it's back to work. I may not have a classroom of my own yet, but I get to borrow one for the start of the 2014-15 school year as I fill in for a 7th grade English teacher as part of a long-term assignment. The last time I kicked off a school year I was a new student myself, a student teacher being charged with a group of students (and luckily, a very patient and wise mentor teacher) that I would have for the next two nine weeks.

I don't talk about teaching much on My Life as a Teacup, for various reasons. First and foremost, it's a matter of privacy, both personal and of my students*. But now that it's, well, my career, I would be surprised if it didn't come up in some way, shape, or form every now and then.

I want to talk about teaching; I think there are lots of valuable things that can be learned from the view of an English teacher, whether you too are a teacher, or a parent, or just a college student with no personal interest in public education whatsoever. Trust me, there are plenty of writing, productivity, organizational, etc. tips I could teach you, all of which I learned in my first year as a substitute (and I'm sure more to come).

But for those of you who are teachers, here are some valuable tips I've learned so far. Maybe they'll help you as well!
  1. Play the name game - One of the many tangible takeaways I learned from student teaching was this simple little beginning of the year game. I brushed off introductory type games as juvenile, especially when in the realm of high school, but this game is a simple way to get to know your students and learn all of their names at the same time! I have yet to meet a human being who doesn't like trying to memorize 20+ names/facts and win the title of being a beast (which also makes this a great game for large party/conference-type scenarios).

    It goes like this: It's easiest if everyone's sitting in a circle. You, the teacher, start by saying your name and something you like that begins with the same letter, for instance, "My name is Kristin/Ms. So and So, and I like Kit Kats." The next person says their name and something they like ("Sam likes soup.") and then repeats the name and interest of each person before him. The sooner you go, the less names you have to remember. The last person either has to really pay attention or have an incredible memory!

    It's a fun, yet simple game that gets kids' attention. I like it because all of the repetition allows me to learn my students' names in a quarter of the time it would normally take me, and learn a little something about them, too!
  2. Plan - However it best works for you, just make sure you plan. Lessons, units, your days, weeks, nine weeks, your big projects. Make sure you're organized and have an idea of what both the big and little pictures hold. 
  3. Then thrown your plans out the window - Because plans always fall apart. Field trips happen. Assemblies happen. Days where your lesson doesn't go well and no one seems to get it happen. You've got to be flexible and open to moving things around. Maybe this means bumping your lesson plan back a day, or even switching units up. Maybe this means cutting and pasting mini-activities into different days. It's hard to say what exactly will happen, but you should be prepared for anything. Anything.
  4. Make teacher friends - This may be the other teachers in your department, or just the teacher in the classroom next door. It's nice to know that you have someone to go to when you have a question, need help with a different approach, or want to borrow successful materials (or really need to pee). I can't tell you how many times I ran to my fellow English department teachers with questions ranging from "Did they even learn this? They're acting like they have no idea what a noun is!?" to "How did you teach interrogative pronouns, because I'm worried my method might be too wordy." Granted, most schools have programs where you will have some sort of support system in your fellow teachers, but finding those few people with whom you click is a good feeling and will only help expand that support system and resources
  5. Start a simple routine and stick to it - I once had the luxury of teaching a double period, which meant I could start class with 15 minutes of silent reading and a grammar warm-up activity each day. While not always possible, I've tried to adapt that routine to fit other schedules and usually settle on a quick "correct the sentence" or figurative language warm up to start class. It not only helps to get things rolling, but my students know exactly what to do when they come in (plus, I get to reinforce the literary terms and grammatical points we learn throughout the year).

    The catch with this is that you need to stick to it. Every now and then we might ditch the warm up, either because of an assembly or test, but my kids would be mad at me if we didn't do a warm up most days, even on holidays (where we had some holiday/seasonal-themed sentences, at least)! While they would let the one or two missed days slide, I've found that completely ditching a routine halfway through the year just leaves students feeling resentful and confused —"Why did we do that anyway if we stopped? It obviously wasn't important." I know it can get hard to keep up a routine, which is why I prefer to keep it simple, but at least stay consistent.
  6. Find your style - My teaching style may be influenced by my mentor teacher and those I learned from, but I am certainly not their carbon copy. We have different philosophies, different approaches, different dispositions. And I honestly don't think there is one "right" way to teach. We've all found ways that work, and those may change based on what class we teach, what grade we teach, what group of students we teach, and how adventurous we're feeling in a given year. I'm still finding my own style, but I'm getting more comfortable in it every day.
I've quickly found, however, that once school begins, even these guidelines and most sensible reason get thrown out the window and you just roll with what you've got. I'm sure by the third day all of my logical plans will have already been adapted into something completely different. Not bad different, but just not what I had put on my calendar. 

Oh well, such is the life of a teacher.

What tips do you have for starting off the new school year, from a teacher's viewpoint or otherwise? What part of going back to school did you look forward to the most? Most nervous about?

*Fun fact: Many of you are probably confused as to why my Twitter and Instagram accounts are private. As a blogger, that's usually considered a no-no, but as a teacher, I'd really rather have my privacy respected. Blog posts are articles, for all intents and purposes, and while there's nothing inappropriate on my other social media feed, I'd prefer my students not know that I frequent the one local Dairy Queen on a pretty regular basis.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

Today is super-overdrive cleaning day! I'm armed with Lysol wipes, dusters, a small vacuum, and am heading into work to get my classroom cleaned and organized for next week. And Firefly, because I have a feeling it's going to be a loooong day.

♥ School starts on Monday and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to start off a new year. It's frankly nice to get more and more experience with the everyday grind, where lesson plans can build to something bigger, versus just being in for one day (because as much as teachers try to create substitute plans that tie in, things don't always go according to plan).

♥ It's a shame that so often we tear things down in this country to make room for the new. I'll quote Eddie Izzard: "I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from." Not that there's no history in the U.S., but I envy the fact that other countries have structures that are hundreds of years older than what's around here. That said, I love exploring the city of Pittsburgh because that's where the history is around here (where I live is mostly suburbs and things not built prior to the 40s) and it's stunning. To see the colorful doors and city steps of South Side, or the old neighborhood schools and churches is a gorgeous sight.

♥ I'm seriously so amazed and impressed and in love with the conversations that are happening in the NovelTea Facebook group. I come home every day to notifications and great discussions about the role of fanfiction and the differences between appropriation and plagiarism; of favorite fantasy worlds; and of our own members' contribution to the world of fandom. Keep it up, you amazing readers, you!

little loves
snazzy notebooks ♥ free cups — I ended up with a total of 5 cups in my car at one point this week. Granted, some were from impromptu coffee runs, but I've been able to stock up on some good tumblers and water canteens for work ♥ Emma Watson ♥ pumpkin-scented everything (including finding pumpkin spice coffee at the store!) ♥ s'mores ♥ kind neighbors ♥ the excitement of little kids on the first day of school ♥ teacher discounts and back-to-school sales ♥ phone call pep talks ♥

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Smitten: The Skimm

This week I'm bringing you a little dose of practicality as I gush over my favorite subscription service. No, you don't need to buy anything. It's free and it comes right to your inbox.


Having gone back to work this week, I've realized that I am in no way prepared to wake up as early as I need to. At 5:30am, I'm such a zombie. On top of that, unlike the old townhouse, I don't have a space in the house where I can simultaneously get ready and tune into the local news, meaning that I'm embarrassingly out of the loop lately.

Enter: The Skimm.

The Skimm is a subscription news service that boils down the top world happenings; summarizes them in a short, sweet and comprehensible manner; and sends the news briefing to your inbox each morning.

While yes, I do mourn not being able to see what's going on in my local community as much as I'd like, I've found other outlets to do so. The Skimm has big events covered, however, in a way that's easy to understand. There's no jargon, and important events are laid out with clarity and explanation. And humour. Can't forget the humour.

Not going to lie, sometimes I get lost in all of the many confusing and conflicting reports that get muddled in the giant media explosion that is the news. It's easy for anyone to be overwhelmed by it all! It's nice to be able to scroll through a quick summary of what's going on in the world and understand it all in the process (and of course, go deeper if I so choose). But to have a mini-morning news briefing right at my fingertips? Oh yes.

What would you like to see delivered to your inbox each morning?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review + Giveaway: Blackfin Sky

Blackfin Sky

I am not scared of many things (and the things I am afraid of usually stem from playing creepy video games after dark). Give me a story that takes place in a circus of any kind and I will inevitably bite my nails in horror during nearly every scene.

That's what I spent most of my time reading Kat Ellis' Blackfin Sky doing. When Valerie first reached out to me about this debut novel of Ellis', I was intrigued by the initial premise: a girl walks into school one morning. No big deal, right? What if I told you she's been dead for 3 months?

Sky finds herself the object of her classmates' stares one morning, as they all find it a bit odd that the recently deceased girl has just shown up to class. Sky apparently drowned months ago, but here she stands, and she has no recollection of where she's been or what has happened to her since her fall off of the pier. Without giving too much away, Sky finds herself drawn into a tangled web of mysteries surrounding her family, her past, and the town of Blackfin. Not to mention the local creepy, magical circus.

It's a bit choppy at parts, namely the beginning. But Ellis' story starts to shine through as Sky gets sucked further into the mystery of her death (as opposed to her friends' somewhat nonchalant reactions to her reappearance). The pacing and dialogue weaves in and out at points (I would've preferred to hear more about the circus and Sky's, errr, skills, than the typical relationship chit-chat towards the beginning), but overall I found myself not able to put the book down. If I didn't find out what happened RIGHT THEN I thought I was going to explode. Or something. I just had to know!
(Click above for a more comprehensive video review!)
In honor of eerie circuses everywhere, give Blackfin Sky a read. And then come help me add more books to my creepy circus bookshelf on Goodreads.

Lucky for you, I've got an extra copy of Blackfin Sky to give to one of you, Teacups!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

While I did receive a copy of this book complimentary from the publisher, all opinions are my own! The giveaway is open internationally (cause I love you guys!)

Monday, August 18, 2014

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.117

Heart Sweets ~
( via Rocío ) 

saccharine adj. [ˈsa-k(ə-)rən]: overly or sickeningly sweet (via)

The book's ending was so saccharine that she found it unrealistic; surely, such perfect happily ever afters didn't exist in real life?

For the Love of a Linguaphile is a weekly series celebrating the snazzy words we encounter, from those found in great literary works, to those pesky words that keep popping up in everyday life. Hopefully you can incorporate a new word into your vocabulary, or even share one of your favorite words!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

link love

♥ And here I thought Coffitivity had great background ambience. Now you can have Hogwarts-inspired white noise! brb going to finish writing this in the Ravenclaw common room.
♥ Is being too busy making us less reflective?
♥ If there's one piece of advice I could give to all of my students, and all parents of kids, it would be this piece of advice by J.K. Rowling.
How Rainbow Rowell Turned a Bomb Into a Best-Selling Novel (NovelTea members and lovers of Rainbow's books alike should take a peek for a look at some of the inspiration behind her books)
17 Things About Pittsburgh That You Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners (not necessarily, but they're still fun facts for those who aren't locals!)
Make your own dancing baby Groot! Because everyone needs a dancing Groot in their lives.
Dreamy winter and rainy photography from Christophe Jacrot
♥ This article breaks down posting schedules into a weekly social media diet. Brilliant. And easy to remember when I should post what type of content.
♥ Capsule wardrobe 101 (I really need to try my hand at this to get my closet under control!)
♥ MAC's new line is inspired by romance novels.

Find any fun links this week?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Back to School Style

I can't tell you how many times I've been met with confused looks as family, friends, students, and strangers alike ask me, "Weren't you wearing a different pair of glasses yesterday?"

Apparently owning two pairs of glasses makes you part of a weird minority.

It wasn't until recently that I stopped thinking of my glasses as a necessity and more of an accessory. Sure, I need them to see (I literally can see only colors without them), but why not have a little fun with them while their on your face?

And so when I went to the eye doctor last year, I took my prescription home, popped onto Warby Parker — which I had been scoping out for years — and made the splurge on not only one, but two pairs of glasses. I switch up my frames based on everything from my hair, my outfit, or simply what I'm feeling like putting on my face that day, and as I break out my teacher's wardrobe again, I've been taking my glasses into account more and more. I have my sleek and studious Linwoods, and my trendy tortoise shelled Chamberlains (and I love them both equally!). Dare I add a third pair? I'm tempted.

Plus, you can never be too old for a back-to-school wishlist (or some adorable Peter Pan collar dresses)!

ONE. dresses from ruche, joules, modcloth; skirt from old navy TWO. peter pan, striped, collared THREE. chamberlain, linwood glasses FOUR. wellies, oxfords FIVE. luna lovegood tee SIX. quilted vest

So I can totally go back-to-school shopping now, right? Because a Luna Lovegood tee is appropriate...workwear.

**This post contains affiliate links for both Warby Parker and Modcloth and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links (I promise, I won't steer you wrong, though!)

What's on your back-to-school wishlist? Do you rock multiple pairs of glasses too?

Warby Parker

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

I'd be lying if I said this week hasn't been a rough one.

I got some somewhat late news that I'd be starting back at school a while week earlier than anticipated (though it's just meetings and not kids, it's still nerve-wracking!). I've had a log week of meetings and another one next week. And frankly, as a. Long-term sub who's not starting her first term in the position but rather ending it, it's bittersweet. I already know where my classroom is and can't really participate in that infectious enthusiasm of the newly-hired teachers who are excited to see he building for the first time.

Despite all of the chaos, long days, and mixed emotions, I've been constantly reminding myself that I have come such a long way since graduation mere months ago. It's hard to keep from getting discouraged about the state of the colony and things that are out of your control. And though I will have a lot of hard decisions to make in the future, I don't have to make them today. I have so much going for me right now, and I should take time to pat myself on the back for all I've accomplished.

♥ This week has been an ongoing training session - 8 hours a day. Lots of information. And while it's now always fun (hooray, paperwork!) it's been incredibly helpful. The seminar on bullying was probably the best workshop I've ever attended, EVER. I feel more prepared now, and really wish this was something that was taught at the college level!

♥ Not every teacher is blessed with a supportive administration. As much as I wish it were universal, realistically it's not always the case. But I am lucky enough to say that I ha an amazing administration to support me. I felt it before, but heir caring, friendly, knowledgable, and supportive presence has been felt even more strongly at this week's meetings. Plus it's just a nice feeling to know that you GET ALONG with your coworkers - bosses and colleagues alike!

♥ Are there things about the start of this school year that I wish we're different? Of course. I wish it weren't a long-term assignment but permanent. I wish I had years' worth of material and didn't have to worry so much about teaching new-to-me material. I wish I could get into the building sooner than summer construction has so far allowed. But when I stop and think about all of the positive things that I am blessed with this school year, I'm reminded just how lucky I am. To have a job PERIOD, temporary or not. To have a position in a subject/grade that I love. To already know where my classroom is and where I packed everything up at the end of last year. To already know my coworkers. To not have to worry about getting lost in the building or figuring out where to convene for a fire drill. For not having to end a school year but have the opportunity to start one. I am truly lucky. And while yes, I wish it weren't going to end this fall, I am thankful for this journey with these wonderful people (and am wishing on every possible star that I can enjoy it endlessly).

little loves
that Pittsburgh has a comic/pop culture convention at all ♥ I would like a little dancing Groot, please and thank you!! ♥ chai lattes and the opportunity to wear a wool skirt and pretend that it's autumn ♥ knowing that my portfolio got saved! ♥ skilled public speakers ♥ oxfords ♥ things glow in the dark (these always make me smile!) ♥ perfect strangers who ask how your day is ♥ being invited to lunch ♥ passionate people ♥ Dad-isms ♥ when something reminds you of a Dad-ism and the urge you then get to immediately text your dad about it! ♥ ice cream from the best spot in town! ♥ self-evaluations and reflections ♥ small goals and plans for the coming month (I seriously love Mia's monthly activity lists for this reason!) ♥ getting to see K.I.T.T!

What are you grateful for this week?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Tour of My Bookshelf

For as much as I talk about books, I don't think I've ever shown you what my actual bookshelf looks like! For all you know, I could be hiding The Beast's library behind a door in my humble abode (I'm not), in which case I'm sure we'd all be planning an epic sleepover in such an awesome library ASAP.

The moment I am able to build my own library though, I will be sending out invitations for that aforementioned epic sleepover, complete with forts and fairy lights.

My library, however, is a much simpler one; I tend to borrow books from the library and save the coveted room on my single bookshelf for favorites and stories worthy of rereading. Curious as to what exactly I keep on my shelves? Here's a peek:

Now that I think of it, I should really give you a digital tour of my Kindle sometime, too! Oh the books, the horror (of so many unread ebooks, that is!)

What does your bookshelf look like?

Monday, August 11, 2014

For the Love of a Linguaphile v.116

Fence and Hedge
( via Martin Kenny ) 

ornery adj. [ˈr-nə-rē]: easily annoyed or angered; having an irritable disposition; difficult to deal with (of a person) (via)

The ornery old man yelled at the neighborhood kids to get off of his lawn!

For the Love of a Linguaphile is a weekly series celebrating the snazzy words we encounter, from those found in great literary works, to those pesky words that keep popping up in everyday life. Hopefully you can incorporate a new word into your vocabulary, or even share one of your favorite words!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

link love

Quit Pointing Your Avocado At Me! Though this is from the perspective of a mom, I, too, have often felt that people are living AT ME.
100 Actual Titles of Real Eighteenth-Century Novels. I'll just be here, spitting coffee all over my keyboard.
19 Ten Minute or Less Mood Boosters
♥ I, like anyone else, am enticed by articles in the format of a list. So I had to click on this 'If Classic Books Were Listicles' because LISTS!
Snacks of great writers (in doodle form). I think John Steinbeck and I have a lot of eating habits in common.
These librarian reviews of children's books are awesome!

Find any fun links this week?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Things I Love Thursday

apparently I'm in my dark, moody, "I wish it were autumn"-filter phase

After a giant cluster of logistical and technological hangups and some (ongoing) moments of panic, I go back to work on Monday. Granted, it's mostly meetings at first, but I still feel like I could use 7 more years to prepare and honestly, where did summer go!?

I had trouble writing this week's TiLT, not because there aren't things that I feel grateful for, but because all of this chaos has overloaded my brain. And so I'm going to try to focus on the things that have calmed me down and kept me focused.

♥ I preach the benefits of working somewhere other than your home, and I can't tell you how much of a lifesaver Starbucks has been for me this week. Any outside establishment will do, but I just ran across the street, brought my laptop, and got done what I needed to get done. I don't know what being not at home is so magical; I think it's the fact that you have a set window of time before you have to go home, or before the place closes. It's not like home where you can keep putting something off because it will be there later. Saying "I want to get 3 lesson plans written in the time that I'm here" puts a deadline on my task and I feel like I have to get it done; postponing it isn't an option.

♥ The gym. As sore as my muscles were yesterday, as much as I didn't want to go because it was already eight o'clock at night and storm clouds were looming, I sucked it up and went. And for an hour, my mind was so focused on my routine, on counting how many reps I had left, that I had no choice but to stop thinking about the twelve thousand ideas swirling around in my head.

Chucking my to-do list out the window. Having this conflicting notion to ditch my list at a time when I really need to get things accomplished sucks. Lately I've been so focused on the list itself and getting things crossed off that I'm not enjoying what exactly it is that I'm doing, or keeping in mind why I had it on my list in the first place. Sometimes you need a day with no list; having a day where you work on your personal, "for fun" list isn't the same thing. There are still things that feel like they need to get done. I'm calling BS on my listing habits and need to give them an overhaul because this is getting out of hand.

little loves
fresh peaches ♥ annual picnics with my cousins ♥ hazelnut coffee ♥ Guardians of the Galaxy (1. The poster is glorious 2. Highly entertaining 3.Some moments that, after sleeping on, I'm feeling 'meh' about but 4. Overall, enjoyed it to death) ♥ comfortable pants (never underestimate the power of sweatpants) ♥ when your picky-eater of a cousin admits that she now likes one of your favorite foods — I'm already planning an Italian-food face-stuffing excursion ♥ when things match and the confidence that feeling put together gives you ♥ baking, specifically zucchini walnut cookies

What has kept you calm and focused this week?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Smitten: Parks & Rec

(I didn't intend for the third post in my "Smitten" series to be about another television show. But alas. This crept up and caught me completely off guard.)

Confession: I was watching an episode while writing this, and ended up choking on my cookie thanks to Ron Swanson. I would've died happy.

If you had asked me my opinion of Parks & Recreation when I started watching season 1, I would've told you I wasn't won over. In fact, I did tell a few people that, including Megan. There were chuckle-worthy moments, but I wasn't sucked into all of the hype.

So I did what most people told me to do: I watched the second season.

And now I am smack-dab in the middle of a Netflix marathon and having serious dilemma — perhaps the most pressing thing I've had to contemplate all day — about who I love more. Leslie's love of waffles and general awesomeness? Andy's enthusiastic obliviousness? Ron Swanson's being Ron Swanson? April's casual "I hate everything" but feel quite contented about it attitude?


I honestly can't decide. All I know is that I've laughed out loud an uncountable number of times in the past few hours, and who doesn't enjoy a good laugh?

On a more serious note/slightly incoherent tangent, I'm not usually a watcher of comedies, be they movies or television shows. While I know of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey's general contributions to women in the entertainment industry, I never really gave their stuff a shot just because I don't know why. I think I've worn down with television and comedies and reality-show style shows like The Office. There are still a lot of feelings I need to parse out about the show, its messages, roles of women in the show itself and behind the scenes, women in entertainment, women comedians, and the like.

But for now I'm just enjoying the fact that my sides hurt from laughing so hard.

Did you experience the same first season slump that I did with Parks & Rec or am I just crazy? Women in the entertainment industry? Give me some food for thought!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Finding Time to Read (+ an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite giveaway)

Somedays it's nice to carry Anna Karenina, six different contemporary novels, a short story collection by Margaret Atwood, and Shakespeare's entire collected works in your purse at the same time.

Yes, my shoulder is still in tact, and no, I'm not suffering permanent spine damage caused by books. Yet. (I do have a scar from a book, but that's a story for another time)

While it comes as no surprise that I love to read, I don't always have the time to curl up with a book and lose myself in it for hours on end. It's a little more plausible in the summer, where my teacher's schedule warrants a day here and there perched under the windowsill, devouring a novel in its entirety. But even then life catches up with you. It becomes easy to make excuses as to why you don't have the time to read a book. Too busy, dentist appointment, Netflix binge watching, family picnics (at which it is apparently unacceptable to whip out a book and ignore your relatives; who knew), and, my favorite, THE INTERNET.

To be honest, I get the most reading done when I'm not actively trying to read. And naturally, when you're not actively trying to read, you often don't have a book on hand.

If you know me in real life, you're also probably not surprised that I usually have a real, actual, physical book stashed in my purse. But let's be realistic. It rains in Pittsburgh. It rains a lot. And sometimes I've got a lot of crap that needs to go into my purse. And sometimes it just gets heavy to carry. And sometimes, I have to pack two books because there are only six pages left in the one and I know I'll finish it before I get home. Which is why I embrace my Kindle.

No, really, I hug it and rub my face against it sometimes because I'm unhealthily obsessed with an inanimate object.
Most days, I don't even take my actual Kindle with me; I just tap into my cloud of e-books from the Kindle app on my phone. Instant reading material — all books selected by me, and hence, book I actually want to read (sorry, dentist's office with the boring magazines) — and I can read as much or as little of any book that I choose, at any time.

And so I find myself reading while I wait for my gym buddy to pull into the parking lot. I read while I wait at the dentist's office. I read while dinner is on the stove, and needs constant stirring. I read while I wait for the rain to clear up before dashing across the parking lot with my grocery cart. I read during movie previews commercials (I like the trailers, the commercials have got to go).

I read everywhere.


I didn't intend for August to become the month of giveaways (I have a copy of Blackfin Sky I'll be putting up for grabs next week, too), but you're in luck! I'm teaming up with The Modern Austen to give one reader a Kindle Paperwhite.

You read that right: you can win a Kindle!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway is open to residents of the continental U.S. only; entries will be verified. The giveaway will run until August 18th at 11:59pm

What are some ways you fit reading into your hectic schedule?