Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Goals - How did I do?

You can read about my January goals here.

So, how did I do?

1.  Success and Fail.  I finished putting in all the Brazil photos that I printed out, but I didn't get the others printed, nor did I start my wedding album.  :(
2.  Success and Fail.  I actually managed to save more than $500 for most of the month, but then we decided to move to a new house, and our security deposit is waaaay higher than we were expecting.  So some of our savings had to be used for that.  So right now we're a little under $500 in savings, but we'll try make it up next month.
3.  Ummm... no comment.  Hahaha!
4.  Well, as you read in my "Blogging Break" post, that isn't going to happen.  I just have way too much on my plate right now.  I'll continue to pop in when I have something interesting to share, but I don't think I'll be able to stick to a regular schedule until after Beauty and the Beast is over.

Ok, so January was a crazy, long, exhausting month.  I had two school-related weekend trips (took my students to an honor choir festival, had a 3-day conference), had Beauty and the Beast rehearsals every day, built and painted sets, found costumes for the show, and found a new house to move in to.  Let's hope February is more relaxing, though I know it won't be because our show opens at the end of the month!

I'll check back in on the 1st with my February goals.

How has your January been?


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Observations about Alabama

After living in SoCal, NorCal, and Brazil, and after having traveled around North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, my husband and I have settled in the Deep South.  Even though it's in the USA, I've had my fair share of culture shock...

I know I'm supposed to be on a blogging break, but I thought I'd pop on here to share a few things I've noticed about living in Alabama.

I don't know if it's a "Southern" thing or just an Alabama thing, but monograms are EVERYWHERE.  Seriously everywhere.  I've seen things monogrammed that I didn't know could even be monogrammed!  Earrings, necklaces, shirts, sweaters, purses, cars - you name it, it will be monogrammed!  I'm not just talking about one initial.  Or your three initials lined up next to each other.  Monograms here are serious business.  They are fancy, difficult to read, and very very personal.

I may have mentioned this before, but the number of people that smoke is beyond my comprehension.  It's crazy.  Also the number of obese people is a little bit out of control.

Will I ever get used to the accents???  I can't understand what people are saying!!!  And I'm ashamed to admit I've unfairly judged people based on their accents...

I always grew up saying "please" and "thank you," but now I feel so self conscious for not saying "sir" and "m'am" all the time.  I never remember to say it until it's too late, and then I feel like a horribly rude person for not having said it.


Linking up with Travel Tuesday!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Blogging Break

I had so many great intentions for keeping my blog going this year.  I have so many posts in my drafts folder.  But I just can't seem to finish them.  I have begun to realize that when I start to think about finishing those posts, I get anxious and frustrated and I postpone them.

I just don't think I can blog right now.

I LOVE reading blogs, and having my blog in Rio kept me sane, seriously.  But I want it to be something I do for fun, not because I feel obligated.

I feel a little bit guilty for wanting take an official break.  But at the same time, if I just don't post for awhile without mentioning anything, then I feel like a flake.  So I just wanted to take the time to mention on here that I'll be purposefully taking a break from blogging.  If I start to feel inspired again, and if I get around to finishing those other posts, then I'll get back on here and start it up again.  But for now, I just need to concentrate on my real job.  I'm taking my choir to "honor choir" this weekend, next weekend I have a 3 day conference, and in February we have our Beauty and the Beast production.  So I have quite a bit on my plate right now.

I know that when I have spring and summer breaks I'll do some traveling, and so I hope to post some more then.

I'll also continue to read all the blogs that I'm currently following.  In case you want to discover any new blogs to follow, here is a list of all the blogs I regularly read.  It might seem like a lot, but they don't all post every day and some are even on "breaks" of their own.  I hope you check some out!

Alisa Burke
Emma Block
Emma Kisstina
Jennifer Frith

A Model Recommends
Essie Button
Garance Dore
Amelia Liana
Lily Pebbles
Lisa Eldridge
Pen. Paper. Polish.
The Beauty Look Book
The Beauty Department
Vivianna Does Makeup

Keto Adapted
Real Food RN
Tea Cup Tea
The Skinny Confidential

A Beautiful Mess
A Cup of Jo
Chasing My Extraordinary
Craftberry Bush
Daydreams of Summertime
iHeart Organizing
Liberty or Death
Megan Nielsen
My Ideal Home
Oh the Lovely Things
Perfect Harmonies
The Small Things Blog
This Darling Day
Wit and Whistle
Witness the Miracle

Adventitious Violet
A Girl and Her Travels
Girl Meets Globe
In Search Of
Ink and Adventure
Living in Another Language
Mr. and Mrs. Globetrot
Paris in Four Months
Postcards from Rachel
Rhyme and Ribbons
Snow in Tromso
The Misadventures of Morgan
The Thrifty Gypsy Travels
To the Sea
Valerie's Adventures
World of Wanderlust

Whew! Those should keep you busy for awhile!  Let me know which ones you check out.

In the meantime, wish me luck.  I have a very busy semester ahead!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Saudades, Brasil

I've sat down and tried to write this post several times.  While we were still living in Brazil it was too emotionally "close to home" to fully express my feelings.  Now that I've been back for a few months, I'll try to write clearly, and hopefully it will all make sense.

Our year in Brazil was very tough.  Emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally, mentally... I was so anxious to get back home, but more than that, I was anxious to get out of there.  To leave the toxic situation we were in.  I don't know how many times I tried to convince Peter to leave before the year was out.  Now that I've been back in the States for half as long as I was in Brazil, I can't believe it was only a year.  SO much happened.  So much stress, so much anxiety, so much loneliness.  But also so many adventures, so many new friends, and many fun experiences (and soooo much food).

After we got back I couldn't write about it for awhile.  I couldn't think about it.  I needed time away to process.  Life in Brazil was very difficult.  But I should clarify that many of our frustrations were caused by the Americans Peter worked for, not Brazilians.  Not Rio.  Of course we had our general annoyances with the bureaucratic idiocy of that country, but we handled it and moved on.

Rio is a beautiful city, full of so many fun things to do.  And actually, I didn't mind speaking Portuguese every day.  In fact, I loved it.  I loved learning a new language and getting actual, practical experience with it.

As much as I love our families, I loved living far away from them, especially during our first year of marriage.  I loved that we had the freedom, the necessity, of making our own decisions, of growing as a newly married couple, of having to rely on each other more and more.


Having to take Peter to the emergency room twice for stress-related illnesses.

Not being able to work a job that I was promised because of completely avoidable visa problems.

That our rent was higher than we  were told expected and our salary was lower than expected.

That our apartment was under construction for a month, during which the only room in the apartment I could use was the bedroom (not even the kitchen), and finding out after that they "fixed" the wrong thing and the original problems still existed.

Working exactly opposite schedules of my husband and hardly ever getting to see him (he worked days, I worked evenings/nights).

Feeling isolated and unwanted by the people that should have been my friends.

Knowing said people were gossiping about me behind my back (I found out by accident...).

The utter loneliness and sheer boredom I felt for most of the year.

That I was able to meet people from all over the world.

That I was able to get involved in our church and help start a children's ministry to the favela kids.

That we lived so close to the beach.

The city of Rio.  It is beautiful, stunning, exciting, and extremely unique.  I loved exploring Rio and all the adventures the city offered.

My English student, and every Brazilian I met, for that matter.

Connecting with other expats all over the world through blogging.  It has been so fun and has warded off many a lonely afternoon.


I finally feel like I am having more rationalized, objective thoughts about our time there.  I can think about the frustrations without getting worked into a frenzy.  I can remember the good times without the bad times overshadowing them.  And I can finally think about moving back some day.

I think the entire year can be summed up in one word: intense.

Was it rewarding?  I don't know.

Was it worth it?  I don't know.

Would we ever move back to Rio?  Yes.  I think we would.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Wisdom from my mother

My parents' guest room is also my mom's office.  And while we were staying there over Christmas break, I noticed that her entire bulletin board was covered with words of wisdom that she had collected over the years.  I thought they were too good not to share.  I especially need to remember some of these as I go back to work and have to deal with teenagers and... coworkers!

Feel free to copy or print for your own bulletin board or refrigerator!  I decided to leave these in my mom's handwriting, because I like it, but I've also included printable versions at the bottom of the post.

3 Choices in Life!
Give up
Give in
Give it all you've got.

3 Things You Can't Recover:
The moment after it's missed
The word after it's said
The time after it's wasted

"Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul" (John Maxwell)
So encourage someone today!

Phil. 4:8
Be anxious for nothing
Be prayerful in everything
Be thankful with anything

Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little,
has its stages of drudgery
and triumph.

Before you speak, THINK!
T - is it True?
H - is it Helpful?
I - is it Inspiring?
N - is it Necessary?
K - is it Kind?

"You are never too old to set another goal
or to dream a new dream."
- C.S. Lewis

And, well, why not?

Grout Cleaner
7 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup vinegar
Throw in a spray bottle, spray floor, let sit for a minute, then scrub
(I think this would also be a good household cleaner in general, especially for the sink and counters)

Printables (Click to view bigger size, then right click and download):

So, which piece of advice is your favorite?  Do you have any other tidbits you'd like to share?  I'd love to hear!


Friday, January 2, 2015

Easy New Year Detox Tip #1 - Lemons

It's the same routine year after year... the new year rolls around and everyone makes bold resolutions and almost everyone jumps on the detox band wagon.  Juicing cleanses, strict diets, etc. etc.   They last for what... a week?  Two weeks?  I know that in the past I have made grand statements and not followed through... so this year I'm thinking about smaller things I can do... not necessarily to detox, since scientists are currently debunking the fact that you can "detox" your body, but little things I can do to refresh my body.  These are incredibly simple ideas, but the simpler the better - then maybe I'll actually follow through!  I'll be sharing one tip per week for the first 5 weeks of the new year, as well as freebies, incentives, and giveaways to keep you motivated!

Detox Tip #1

Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning

Why lemon?

- Helps flush out toxins
- Prevents the formation of wrinkles and acne
- Promotes weight loss
- Helps reduce pain and inflammation
- Is a great source of Vitamin C, Potassium, and Magnesium
- And many more benefits!
- Check out these sites for more info:


Maybe this free printable will be a good reminder that you need to drink your lemon water.  Print on card stock and mount on a clipboard, put in a frame, or simply stick it up with washi tape.  Either way, I think it would look beautiful hung up in a kitchen!

Here is another vintage printable.  Feel free to download and use for personal use only.

This lemon garland is so cute!  Click on the Source link to download for free.

How cute are these free patterns?  Click on the Source link to download for free!

This printable was intended as canning labels, but I think it's cute as is.  Write your favorite motivational quote on top and you have a cute little decoration!  Follow the Source link to download for free (actual download is higher resolution).

I hope you have success with lemon water this new year!  Let me know how it goes!

Stay tuned for next week's tip and freebie!



Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Years Resolutions and January Goals

Instead of having resolutions this year, I plan on making smaller monthly goals.  I'll check in at the end of each month to evaluate myself and create goals for the next month.  Many bloggers are already doing this, and I think it will be an easier way to actually accomplish things.  

1.  Finish my Brazil Photo album and start my wedding photo album

I started a Project Life album for our Brazil photos, and I am about half way through with getting all the photos in.  I also need to add captions and make things cute.  I printed out over 300 photos and still have more to print!  Crazy!  I can't wait to share the album with you.

I haven't even started on my wedding photos... But I really want to get an album done.  If you have any digital photo albums you love, send your recommendations my way!  For my wedding album I prefer high quality over low price.

2.  Save $500

This might seem like a lot to most people, but we are "dinks" after all (double income, no kids).  I have massive amounts of student loans to pay off, and we have a little bit of credit card debt from our move here, as well as from purchasing our new bed.  If I can save $500 a month, it would really help with paying off those loans sooner rather than later.  Also, we'd like to have a bit in savings for "just in case" or "life happens" moments.  We also want to save up for a nice DSLR, and Peter is going to need a new laptop really soon.

One way I hope to make saving this amount easier is that I plan on taking on some private students.  There are plenty of students interested, I had just postponed it for awhile, as we were adjusting to our new jobs, I was already working full time, and I was honestly getting a little bored of teaching beginners.  However, there is a huge need for violin teachers in this area, and there is plenty of interest, and I could make some extra money... so this next semester I will be taking private students again!

3.  Exercise a little bit.

Even if it's just once a week, it needs to happen.  Seriously.  If there's anything I know for sure about myself, it's that I 100 percent hate working out.  The only way I can tolerate it is with workout buddies.  Without workout buddies, forget it.  So either I need to just suck it up and deal with it, or I need to find some workout buddies!  I'm hoping for the latter.

4.  Get into a blogging routine

I actually have about 50 posts in my drafts... I just need to finish them!  I also have a few photos leftover from Brazil, some photos from our summer travels, and some home projects to share.  I also have some recipes, healthy-eating inspiration, and many more ideas floating around in my head.  I just need to find the time to plan them out and get them posted!  I'm going to aim for 2 posts per week to get started.

Ok I think that's enough for January.  I tried to keep it to things I could actually accomplish.  I don't like setting goals that are not attainable.  That's just depressing.  I will check back in on January 31st to let you all know how it went down.  

Are you making any New Years Resolutions?  Any January Goals?