Friday Five

Happy Friday, loves...and it's the last Friday of March! Can you believe how quickly time is flying? I feel like it was just yesterday that we were ringing in the New Year!
My 5 favorites this week are...

{1} Thursday
I took yesterday as a sick day and stayed home. I wanted to on Tuesday and Wednesday but I had too much going on at work to stay home, so I took my opportunity and rested (and snuggled with Cooper). I'm feeling better, and hopeful that I'll be able to kick this cold in the next day or so. Yesterday it also finally got up to 76 degrees (we won't talk about how there's a high of 45 today), so I was able to get out and take Cooper for a shorts!
I'm definitely ready for 80 degree days....

{2} This Quote
Sometimes you just need the reminder that there's a greater good to what you're doing, even when it's incredibly stressful. 
My job makes a different in kid's lives, and at the end of the day, that's pretty damn cool.

{3} These Funnies:
I love Ryan Gosling.
All the crappy people you encounter:
When you're trying to eat well, but you're home sick all day:
{via} (that didn't happen, but I did enjoy some brownie brittle :)
{4}These cute beachy clothes:
Now, someone get them for me and sneak them into my suitcase. 
Please and thank you :)

{5} Vacay!
If you guys don't hear from me for the next week, that's because I'll be at the beach with my husband, soaking up the sun, relaxing and drinking tropical drinks. This one feels extra special because we'll be celebrating a year of marriage (a couple weeks early), and going back to the Dominican, which is the place we took our first vacation to together. It feels very full circle to be going back to celebrate our first year of marriage.
(FYI, we have someone house/dog sitting in case any creepers out there are thinking of breaking in)
 I didn't line up any guest posts, and don't have any posts going up so it's a total vacation from work life and blog life. Sometimes you just need a break from everything and this is it.
I'm getting a mani/pedi before we go, packing a bunch of cute dresses and swimsuits and heading off to paradise with my favorite person in the world!
I hope you have a great weekend (and week)!
I'll be back before you know it....hopefully, with a tan :)


Wanna know what's happening currently?

Currently, I'm....

Feeling... under the weather. It might be allergies, but I think it's a cold, courtesy of that lovely (sarcasm) PS student I've been forced to take on at my second school. Me and the OT who worked with him on Friday are both sick. That school continues to give me all kinds of "gifts"
Reading... nothing right now. I downloaded several books this past weekend from Amazon but I haven't decided which one I'm going to read first!

Listening to... as I write this, the preschoolers screaming on the playground. It's been going on for about 25 minutes straight now. 
(Insert insanity here)

Drinking....lots of water, and sleepytime tea at night

Eating.....healthy. Gotta make sure I'm beach-ready in a few days!

Watching... all the shows! Just kidding...lately I've been watching Southern Charm, RHOBH, and the new season of Married At First Sight--that show intrigues the heck out of me from the psychological standpoint. I loved season 1, and I'm already into season 2.

Thinking about...what I can do to make sure my congestion goes away by Sunday, otherwise my flight is going to hurt SO BAD. The last time I flew congested, I thought my eardrums were going to explode.

Working on... figuring out what to pack for our trip. All of my Spring/Summer clothes are in another room in our house, so I need to go get them and start figuring out what I want to bring with me. I know I'm going to overpack, as usual :)

Loving... that my dad has consistently reported feeling better, and he's gotten his appetite back after the docs took him off of some meds he had been on. He sounds so much happier on the phone when I talk to him, and he looked much better when I saw him on Sunday. Fingers crossed that it continues in this direction!

Excited about... our vacation. It will be so nice to get away from all of the stresses (and germs) at work, and just relax with my husband, enjoy some quality time together, and celebrate one year of marriage.
Just picture my head and MG's head on their bodies lol
What are you up to, currently?
Thoughts for Thursday

Wine? Wine Not!

Who here likes drinking wine?

Dumb question, right? :)

Whether you like reds or whites, I have a list of some of my must-have wine accessories!

If you can afford one, get a wine fridge. We have a 12 bottle one which holds enough wine for us--sometimes we don't have space for new bottles because it's totally full (altho that ebbs and flows depending on season, stress levels, etc), but that's never for very long.
 We have a dual zone fridge that keeps separate temps for reds and whites. Since getting this, I've found that I enjoy my reds a little bit chilled.
This is an 18 bottle dual zone fridge for $269.95 on Amazon
Ours sits in the corner of our dining room, out of the way, but easily accessible for whenever we need or want a drink

The next ones are more affordable and make drinking wine that much easier and better.

This bottle opener. 
$17.99 on Amazon
I got mine for a bridal shower gift and it's awesome. It has a foil cutter in the back, and then you just pop the opener on top of the wine, push the down button and wait for it to pull the cork out! Opened wine bottle in 3 seconds (and no broken corks!)
In order to release the cork, you hit the Up button and it unwinds the cork for you.
Place it back on the charger and it's ready to go when you need it next.
After using this a bunch myself, I got it for a house warming gift for my sister-in-law who loves it, too!

The next accessory is the aerator. This one had great reviews and works like a charm to bring the wines to life. (This one is similar to the one I have):
$9.99 on Amazon

The last must-have accessory is this vacuum pump sealer. 
$20.84 on Amazon
It comes with 2 vacuum sealer tops, as well as 2 pourers (but I prefer the aerator mentioned above) and does a really nice job of sucking the air out of the wine bottle, preserving an open bottle for longer than just sticking the cork back in. It's such a tight seal that you can easily put it back into the wine fridge, laying down, and it won't spill. 
It has a click sound that lets you know when the bottle is properly sealed so you never have to guess. And, it's affordable!

All of these are my must-have wine accessories. Do you have any must-haves?

Recipes on my To-Make List

I've been making some regular staple meals in our house lately with everything that's been going on. And now that we're in the final week before vacation, I'm sticking to some healthier meals so we're in beach-ready shape (as much as possible) come this weekend.

But, I thought it'd be fun to show you guys some of the healthier stuff that's on my To-Make List at some point in the near future:

These look perfect for a Spring meal, sitting on the deck:
Roasted Veggie Pitas with Avocado Dip
 This is a favorite in our household--whenever we go out to eat and ceviche is on the menu, it's being ordered. I know if I made this, the hubs would be extra happy and very impressed (maybe I'll surprise him for our anniversary)
Shrimp Ceviche
 My girl at Damn Delicious has very rarely disappointed me with a recipe, so I'm pretty sure this would be a similar case. I need to make this ASAP:
Another dish that just looks like Spring/Summer to me:
Asparagus Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp
 I saw these beauties the other day and my mouth instantly started watering when I read "double chocolate"
Healthy Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
And maybe one on the slightly less healthier side, but still looks delicious!
Slow Cooker Enchilada Orzo
There are a ton of other things on my list, but these are some of the standouts that I'll be trying sooner rather than later, hopefully!

What are some of the recipes that you're dying to try??

Weekend Highlights

The first weekend of Spring was a great one! We finally got some pretty weather on Saturday and Sunday at least and some sunshine!

This weekend's highlights included:

~Another rough end to the work week, where I debated drinking this whole bottle of wine when I got home
I didn't, but I thought about it!
~Instead, I had a Friday date night with MG (where only one glass of wine was consumed) :)

~Enjoyed the beautiful Saturday Spring weather

~Tried on my pretty Loft purchases that arrived on Friday

~Did a Piyo workout (and my legs are still sore!)

~We took Cooper for a long walk

~Decided on a plan for what to do with our basement fireplace. Hopefully after we get the floors done, this will be the focal point in our basement family room:
(Isn't it beautiful???)
~Finished my book on my Kindle and did a little Us Weekly reading
Lily James is FLAWLESS!
~Had a double date dinner with our couple friends

~Gorged on apps, wine and more food--so so good!

~Took a stroll through the streets of Old Town after dinner
~Sunday errands

~We went to lunch with my couple friends from work and had the favorite buffalo chicken wrap with homemade blue cheese dressing. So yum!

~We visited my dad in the hospital--he looked much better, and said he was feeling the best he has felt since everything happened. I was so glad that we got to see him.

~Had a low key rest of the night on the couch with my two guys

All in all, things seem to be settling down a bit after the craziness of last week. My dad's looking and feeling better, and MG's feeling better. Despite some work stresses, we've got great friends around us to have fun and unwind with. Overall, it was a great weekend and just what I needed!

I hope your weekend was everything you needed, too!
Linking up with these pretties today:
Mingle 240

Friday Faves

Another week down, and one week closer to Spring Break. Somehow that doesn't even seem possible with everything that's been going on, but boy am I ready for a vacation and some time in the tropics.

Anyway, after my black rain cloud post yesterday (thank you to all of you who took the time to reach out--you all certainly helped to brighten my day), I thought I'd get into an even better head space by highlighting some of my favorites this week, because even when you're having a bad week, there are still good things happening around you!

It's officially here today, despite the fact that there was snow predicted for this morning (luckily, it's just been rain so far). The weather overall this week has been steadily getting warmer in the afternoons, and I've driven home every day after work with my sunroof open which is always a happy thing for me.
I've also started taking my allergy meds because allergies in the DC area are no joke. Gotta get those in my system before everything comes into full bloom.
(And what says Spring more than a bunny with a flower on its head?? :)

{2} Vacation
Knowing that in a little over a week, this will be my view and my biggest worries will be what drink(s) I should order and whether we should lounge at the beach or by the pool:
I can handle those kinds of "stresses" :)

{3} These Buffalo Chicken Nachos with Blue Cheese Sauce
I want to swan dive into a pile of this delicious goodness!

{4}These Funnies:
{via} Sounds like a good plan to me! :)
{via} We've all been there
{5} This Video 
of guys' reactions when trying on heels for the first time
Thank you Buzzfeed for another entertaining video :)

Hopefully that gets you laughing and ends your week on the right foot so you're ready to take on the weekend!
Catch ya on Monday, lovies!

Real Life Happens

I feel like I've had a little black rain cloud hovering over me for a little while now. Not like I'm depressed, but just things keep happening that make it stressful, annoying, overwhelming, or some other adjective. (You know the phrase "When it rains, it pours"). It feels like I'm under that little shadow, and it just keeps expanding to another aspect of my life, whether it's work, at home, or even in the blog world.

Last week I got totally dumped on at my second school because the administrator wouldn't stand up to a parent who was CLEARLY in the wrong in regard to a situation with my colleague, and basically now I'm the next one in line to be railroaded by this family. Not to mention it's added several hours of extra work to my caseload every week when I'm already feeling stretched pretty thin as it is between my two schools.

MG came down with an illness last week that I spoke about on Monday (I won't go into details, but it has not been fun for him). It's been super hard seeing my husband in pain and not being able to DO anything to fix it.

My dad's back in the hospital again because of excess fluid in his body/congestive heart failure. The doctors have been back and forth on when the next procedure he's going to get will happen (hopefully this afternoon), while trying to stabilize everything else that's going on. I can't be there all the time that I want to be. 
Sometimes I feel like a bad daughter because of that.

And it just gets worse when I come to the blog world to escape it all and even here, sometimes I see stuff that makes me want to quit blogging because there are people (or one particular person in my case) who like to try to stir up drama by leaving petty comments on other people's blogs that have nothing to do with them. They want to try to make a point that they're somehow "better" than other people. I'm not sure why this is a valuable use of other people's time, and it's sickening behavior in general, but when I'm dealing with all of this other stuff, it's pretty much the last thing that I want to read.

Sometimes the unfairnesses of life get me down.
 It's unfair that parents at a school can be rude (and beyond) to teachers who work their butts off to try to help and do the best for a kid. 
It's unfair that some administrators don't have the guts to stick up to parents.
It's unfair that bad things happen to people you care about. 
It's unfair that some people are mean because they have nothing better to do with their time.

 I know it will all likely get better, it's just hard when it feels like everything's happening all at the same time.

That's real life. It happens. And sometimes you just need to get it out in order to take the next step, into the sunshine, towards feeling better.

{Product Review}: Firmoo Glasses

I was contacted a couple of weeks ago from a representative at Firmoo. I'm sure you guys have heard of them through other bloggers, as I had, so I was excited when I was given the opportunity to try out their website and a pair of their glasses.
Picking out the frames was difficult because there were so many to choose from.
I liked that the site offered a way for you to "try on" the glasses virtually.
I think it is difficult to get an accurate feel for it though because it all depends on what size picture you upload. I wish there was something that modified the picture for a "real life" size. 
It was nice to get a general idea of how they would look though since that's sometimes the hardest part of picking out new frames.
I was then allowed to pick whether I wanted prescription lenses or regular.
I have horrrrrrrible eyesight so I definitely went for the prescription lenses. I needed assistance uploading my prescription on the website since it just sat there and was "thinking" for about 10 minutes, several times, before I gave up and emailed my contact at Firmoo to input it for me.

After that, my glasses shipped super fast and arrived really quickly. They came with a case, a cleaning cloth and a little glasses fix-it kit (screwdriver, etc.)

I loved the tortoise shell look of the frames. The only thing I had difficulty with was the glasses slipping off of my nose when I looked down. I was told that this meant the glasses were too big and I needed to get some pads for the glasses. 
I didn't do this, but just push them up as high as they'll go and they usually work for the small time that I wear my glasses at home anyway.

The frame is chunky but cute I think.

I think firmoo is a great choice for affordable frames. If I was looking for new frames, I'd definitely look into trying them out again.

*I was given a free pair of glasses in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

{Recipe Files}:Crock Pot Jalapeno Popper Chili

Did the title get you salivating just reading it? Rightfully so, because this dish is super flavorful and absolutely delicious.
We won't talk about the health-factor (if you don't think about it, it doesn't count).
This was another gem, found from Pinterest and it was perfect for those colder days/nights we were having the last few weeks. But, really, this would be good any time. 

What You Need: (it looks like a lot, but it's not)
-1 medium yellow onion, diced
-1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced and seeded (I used slices from the jar and diced them)
-1.5 tsp minced garlic from jar (3 cloves if fresh, minced)
-1/2 red or yellow pepper, diced 
-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used frozen)
-1 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1 tsp oregano
-pinch of crushed red pepper
-1 can diced tomatoes (I used no salt added)
-3 cups chicken broth
-1/2 pound dry kidney beans (I used red)
-1 cup frozen corn
-salt/pepper to taste
-8 ounces cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
-6 strips of cooked bacon (we used turkey bacon)

What You Do:
1. Add all of the ingredients listed to the crock pot, except for the cream cheese and bacon.
Cook on low for 7-9 hours (I did 9).
2. Shred the chicken with two forks.

3. (Optional, but recommended). Use an immersion blender to pulse the chili and blend the beans and shredded chicken for a thicker consistency.

4. Add the cream cheese to the crock pot after it's fully cooked, while it's just being kept warm. Let it melt for about 10 minutes. Stir to combine.
5. Dish out the chili and top each bowl with crumbled bacon. YUM!

Hope you all have a Happy St. Patty's Day!!!
Happily participating in another:

Martinis & Bikinis

If you liked that recipe, there's plenty more where it came from. Check out my Recipes tab for lots more deliciousness!