Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fall Fashion and Decor Round-Up

With the start of school delayed yet another day, I had the chance this morning to take in part of my fall fashion magazine issues. Last night was a beautiful, fall-like night which is rare for August in Baltimore. Fall is my favorite season because the temperatures are always just right and the colors just gorgeous. If we're lucky, we'll have another beautifully long fall season ahead. Here are some things that make me think fall.

Long sleeve shirts and sweatshirt weather. This seems perfect to throw on when the night air gets cool.

via Anthropologie

A coral take on the nautical stripes.

via Ruche

A rich colored, crocodile-embossed handbag.

via Michael Kors

Fall-like colors for the bedroom.

via West Elm

Rich walnut tones and dark teal. I seriously want this for my imaginary entry way that doesn't exist since I live in a row house.

via Jonathan Adler

A good pair of boots is always a fall must.

via Frye

And don't forget to prepare your dinner table for fall as well.

via Pottery Barn
What lovely fall items have you been looking at these days?

Monday, August 29, 2011

What's Better Than a Hurricane?

Power outages that cause the first day of school to be cancelled. And why was I excited about that? We had planned to drive down to Wolf Trap to see Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers. I knew it'd be an hour and fifteen minute drive back up to Baltimore after the show so I was relieved that I wouldn't have to wake up early this morning for school.

Bruce Hornsby has been one of my favorites since I was a small child. He is an incredibly talented pianist, songwriter, and singer. He's played for and toured with the best of them including the Grateful Dead and Ricky Skaggs. He's one of those musicians that could play just about anything without even thinking about what he is doing-- a complete natural. And as if Bruce isn't an amazing musician as is, we were lucky enough to see the Punch Brothers open the show resulting in Chris Thile playing with Bruce for the majority of the set. What's better than a hurricane? School cancellations, Bruce Hornsby on piano, and Chris Thile on mandolin.

Excuse the craptastic sound quality, but I wanted to share anyway in the event you could hear just the slightest bit.

Unscathed by Irene, the evening turned out to be one of the best in terms of weather that we've had all summer long. We were lucky to have power the whole time. A bit of water leaked in under our front door, but was soaked by the towel we had put in place. Several trees were downed in Patterson Park, but that was about it. Of and our Black Eyed Susan trellis was a few inches askew. Needless to say, we were impacted nearly as badly as they had predicted. However, the majority of the west side of the city struggled with power outages as well as my school's neighborhood a mere five minutes away. Let's just say as an extreme weather enthusiast I was a little disappointed. Now I'll just have to hope for a blizzard this winter!

But back to the subject of Bruuuuuuuuuuce. Here's a better video of one of his most recent songs that seemed appropriate for this past weekend.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kraft and Chevron

With autumn slowly making its way closer, I've designed a few things that remind me a bit of fall. For whatever reason, kraft seems to be appropriate. I think it's because of its raw and natural appearance. I'm still not quite over chevrons so I included both in a few recent designs.

I think it's safe to say I have a few new favorites.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Magnet for Natural Disasters

I've been missing the last week. I've been in my classroom getting things ready for school on Monday. After finally finishing up Friday afternoon, we are now faced with the possibility that school may not open on Monday after all. You see, lately, I've been a magnet for natural disasters and I seem to have brought not one, but two of them our way this week.

Some of you may remember the lovely North Carolina tornado, coming right at us as we headed south on I-95 to Florida.

Then there was also the time that we got stuck in this blizzard on Christmas Day in Nebraska as we were driving to have a family Christmas at my sister's house in Colorado.

Yes, that's the view out the windshield on I-80.

Then there was the blizzard in Baltimore.

And there was the time last summer when we were driving back from my parents' house in Indiana on I-80/90 that we got stuck driving in the worst thunderstorm I have experienced in my life. There was a tornado warning at the time and we were sure we were going to run into one.

Oh, also, I almost got struck by lightning this summer after opening my front door during a thunderstorm. The bolt hit a tv dish across the street, a mere 20 feet away, with a blue glow wrapping around the house. You could hear it buzz and the thunder that accompanied it scared me out of my socks.

If that isn't enough, this Tuesday we had an earthquake. While I had been in two before, they were only just a quick bump. This one, however, was a good 30 seconds of intense shaking and rumbling-- enough that you could actually hear it.

And now, here I sit in my house sipping my coffee waiting for Irene. No one really knows how bad it'll be in Baltimore, but they've predicted power outage for days. I certainly can't be the judge of that because we didn't live here when Hurricane Isabel came through.  Most of the teachers at my school think we won't have school Monday due to flooding and power outages. As for me, I just made sure I had a good stock of coffee. We ran out Friday morning and I certainly wasn't going to go without in the case that the worst happens. Clearly, I have my priorities straight.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hot August Blues

We spent yesterday at the Hot August Blues and Roots Festival at Oregon Ridge Park. And to say that it was hot August blues would be an understatement. A roasty toasty day in the sun sweating it out with some steamy blues and funk would sum it up quite nicely.

We got to the festival nice and early a little after 11 in the morning and scored a nice spot to put our blanket for the day. The day started with the Tom Larson band, a bluesy slide guitarist from the Eastern Shore. We stuck around for a bit, but then headed to the falaffal stand for some lunch so we wouldn't miss the next act. J. Roddy Walston and the Business, a Baltimore based band, cranked up the heat one more notch with their raucous rock and roll. Following was Kings Go Forth, a relatively new dirty soul group that we were really looking forward to. However, their live act was not incredibly spectacular and, we both agreed, a bit of a letdown. Looking back, they should have had J. Roddy follow Kings Go Forth.

Robert Randolph and the Family Band continued the show in the early evening, stepping up with the flavor of funk and grooves that Kings Go Forth lacked. This was our fourth time seeing Robert Randolph, and he and his band are absolutely amazing. We were lucky to most recently have seen them at Eric Clapton's Crossroad Guitar Festival last summer in Chicago. Robert plays amped up pedal steel and his family literally backs him up-- his sister is on backing vocals, his cousins on drums, bass, and guitar. There is no denying that they're family either-- they're all the spitting image of each other. The whole group is amazingly talented not only with their instruments, but with their vocals as well as each took on a lead at some point in the show. One thing that I love about watching them is that there is not a single moment that they aren't enjoying themselves on stage. Robert is smiling nearly the entire time and the rest are dancing and getting down just as much as the crowd.

The closers of the festival were the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Another group that we'd seen at Crossroads last summer, I highly anticipated seeing them again. It was complete luck to have seen them then. The Allman Brothers Band was to have played until Gregg Allman just happened to get a liver donor for his transplant the weekend of Crossroads. So instead, Eric Clapton brought the Tedeschi Trucks Band aboard. Personally, I couldn't have been happier. I was much more glad to see them than a washed up group that I wasn't entirely into.

Susan Tedeschi is by far one of my favorite musicians-- she has an amazing voice comparable to Bonnie Raitt and is an incredibly talented blues guitarist. She recently has paired up with her husband Derek Trucks, another amazing blue guitarist, and his band to round out the Tedeschi Trucks Band. They are probably the most humble musicians I have ever seen perform. They're extremely gracious and appreciative of the talented members of their band and give huge credit to each and every member. There's no gloating or crazy showmanship from either of them, especially Derek, as he has little to say, but flawlessly and effortlessly lets his guitar to do the talking. They closed out the night wonderfully and yet again blew me away with their musicianship. All in all a great day and a wonderful way to end my summer break.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Classroom

Where have I been? In my classroom. I spent the last two days getting relatively nothing done, or so I thought. However, these photos seem to make me think otherwise. This is how things looked on Thursday morning after spending a little bit of time on the room on Wednesday afternoon.

And this is how it looked when I left on Friday afternoon.

Sorry about the crappy phone photos. So I've gotten a lot more done than I had imagined, but still have a lot of decorating to do. Not to mention, I need to set up those desks. I'm sure there will be more photos to come.

The biggest struggle is finding enough storage space. Our middle school team has moved from the main building to our modular building. The plus side-- much more operable windows that actually allow full sunlight to come through, walls that you can staple things to instead of concrete block walls, and our own thermostats so you can control the heat and cooling in your room. The down side-- no cabinets and a downgrade in the size of my room. I spent yesterday afternoon running to Target to buy two more book shelves and then putting them together. I'll probably have to buy another one yet when all is said and done.

I'm slowly getting into the school frame of mind. Our week of professional development starts on Monday, but I'll be enjoying these last two summer days. Today we head to the Hot August Blue & Roots Festival. A perfect way to end the summer!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to School... I Guess

Reality has hit me. Teachers have to be back this coming Monday in Baltimore City which basically means lots of professional development. With that in mind, as usual, I must find the self-discipline to get back to school early (without being paid at that... ugh) and start setting up my classroom. Today will be less of the set up, but more of the purchasing variety. I'll be making stops at my local teacher resource stores to pick up a few things before heading to school.

This year, our entire middle school wing is moving to a different location of the building so unpacking will also involve some serious box moving. In addition, my new classroom is a serious downgrade in size from the room I've had for the past three years. This makes me quite sad as I have one of those, get up and move around, hands on kind of teaching styles.

While these are big changes to deal with, I am excited about one change-- I'll be teaching Social Studies again! By far my favorite subject to teach and what I'm best at as well, I'm looking forward to all of the crazy simulation lessons I previously taught for U.S History and all of the cultural aspects of World Geography. When I found out I would get to teach Social Studies again, I literally "woohoo-ed" with my hands in the air and then did a little dance in the school hallway. In addition, I'll still be teaching Language Arts, making my classes a combined Humanities class which I think will be super interesting.

Needless to say, as I've started getting myself in the right frame of mind to set up my classroom, here are a few things I've stumbled upon that are perfect for the upcoming school year.

via 'i do' it yourself

via Clean & Scentsible

via Modern Parents Messy Kids

via ReForm School Rules

via Flickr
Any creative school year ideas? Let me know! I'm always up for something new to add to my room to make it fresh!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Homemade Pesto & Grilled Salmon

Over the Fourth of July weekend, my aunt brought us her basil plants to plant-sit while she and my uncle took a family trip out west for several weeks. The basil plant, one sweet and one globe, started out fairly full, but by the end of July they were both huge. We used some of the basil here and there in our cooking, including grilled pizza with fresh tomatoes and basil leaves. But it seemed we could not keep up with the pace in which the plants were growing. Last night, I decided I would make some pesto with the ever growing sweet basil plant.

Since I decided to make pesto, Andrew fired up the grill for some pesto salmon-- one of my favorites ways to prepare the fish. It's a quick and simple recipe and you won't regret making the pesto from scratch.

Homemade Pesto

2 cups of packed basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts (walnuts work fairly well as a substitute if you can't get pine nuts)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
4 decently sized cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Pack the basil into a food processor along with the pine nuts.

Pulse the basil and pine nuts a few times until they're finely chopped. Add the garlic and pulse again. Slowly add the olive oil while food processing. Blend in the Parmesan and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Easy as that!

For the salmon, I like to make a little tin foil boat. I place the salmon in the center, spread the pesto on top, and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the pesto and salmon. Pop it on a hot grill for 15-20 minutes, checking back frequently so that your salmon doesn't get too dry.

Finally, serve it with your choice of veggie, rice, or whatnot. We went with corn on the cob last night.

Yum, yum, yum! So tasty that even Lilah had to guard the grill last night in hopes that she would get a little morsel.

Unfortunately for her, she wasn't as lucky as she had hoped. :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just in Time for Fall: Eco Friendly Stationery

As fall soon approaches, I wanted to come up with some designs that felt a bit fall-like. I decided to make a few sets of stationery using this wonderful 110lb light brown kraft card stock I recently ordered. The brown seemed to make sense for fall and the quality and weight of the paper is perfect for flat notes. Because the kraft stock is 100% recycled, I decided to pair it with these wonderfully smooth white envelopes I also carry that are also 100% recycled. The kraft and the envelopes are truly environmentally friendly because they are also produced using wind power. Some how autumn and eco friendly seemed to make sense-- I think it's the natural aspect of both. Here is what I came up with.

Hope these help you gear up for fall! In addition, don't forget to enter the giveaway for some of my awesome chevron note cards over on The Blue Eyed Owl blog. Have a fabulous Tuesday!

Fall Morning Music on a Summer Day

Today is one of those mornings where the sky is gray and it's deceivingly warm out. I woke up with the thought that it was a 60 degree fall day. Funny I might think that only to have the sun poke out from the clouds as I watch the thermometer outside climb closer to 90. I had even put on a fantastic fall album to enjoy with the my coffee this morning. Maybe it was the air conditioning inside that really tricked me-- I don't know.

I felt a need for fall music, which is funny because I usually don't want summer to end. I decided to put on Sarah Blasko, and Australian artist that just happens to share my fall birthday. I found her music while I was living in Australia for school. She is perfect morning music and fall music at that. Minor keys and slightly atonal melodies. A bit haunting and some even say depressing, but perfect for me when I'm trying to get those morning cobwebs out of my brain.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Weekend of Relaxation

This weekend was completely relaxing. Nothing crazy that needed to be done and minimal work on the fence. Andrew finished up what needed to be done last weekend, so he spent some time making a tree planter box and a storage box out of left over cedar. The tree box will go in the front of the house and we hope to get a magnolia or cherry blossom to plant in it. The search for the tree will begin next weekend.

With some cooler, less humid weather on Friday and Saturday we were able to spend time outside in the evening. We enjoyed grilled squash, sweet potato, and sausage on Friday night and ate on the deck with our fun little lanterns.

And it wouldn't be summer in Baltimore without enjoying a good ol' Natty Boh. And by that, I mean, nearly a whole case of these somehow ended up in our fridge after someone was a little overzealous with buying beer for their softball game. And just to hint, that someone wasn't me. Not my first beer of choice ever, but if you live in Baltimore it's just one of those things you learn to like no matter how watery it may be. :)

So the weekend is over, but for me the relaxation continues because of summer break. It is an especially relaxing morning as I am without this little guy who was dropped off at the vet this morning for his little snip-snip surgery. So Lilah is asleep instead of the two rough-housing this morning.

So instead of me chasing animals around this morning, I have been given the opportunity to get some work done earlier in the morning and enjoy my coffee just a little bit longer.

What weekend activities did you enjoy? Hopefully it was just as relaxing as mine!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chevron Love

I have been obsessed with chevrons as of late. You may have noticed by after I made these, these, and this. I just love the bold pattern statement. Even if the colors aren't bright to go along with the bold pattern, that boldness still is there. So I decided to check out some other things of the chevron variety.

via Wit and Whistle

via Puffed Peonies

via Tatibu

via Nena Von

via Jill Rosenwald

via DIY tutorial from Twice Lovely

via Jonathan Adler
What is it about that chevron? I just love it! What sorts of chevron inspired items are you lusting after lately?
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