Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What's Ha-"Pinning" [Vol. 6- My Christmas List]

One of my favorite things as a child was making Christmas lists.  Who am I kidding, I think one of EVERYONE'S favorite things growing up was making Christmas lists.  I remember my brother and I used get the ads that came in the Sunday paper and take turns circling the things we wanted.  And I have to admit my parents were pretty amazing and we got just about everything on said lists.

As I've gotten older though, the lists have disappeared.  Until now.  I figured coming up with a list of things that I wouldn't mind getting for Christmas would be helpful to those who would like to get me something and have no idea.  

I have to admit,  coming up with a list was kinda difficult.  Because I don't really need any of this stuff.  It's just a list of things that I wouldn't mind having in my closet/wearing everyday.

[one] Hunter boots.   These are all over the blog world but to be honest, I need them!  I don't know if you know this but it rains fairly often in Houston.  And when it does rain it RAINS.  Just the other day I was wearing my beloved Tori Burch flats and they were drenched by the end of the day.  And I just kept thinking...if I had rainboots (HUNTER RAIN) boots this rainy day would be so much better.  I would prefer the typical solid black pair.  I've found them here and here.

[two] A Columbia Fleece jacket.   I need something that can be thrown over just about anything on a cold/chilly day.  I've had my eye on the Columbia jacket for a year and just haven't bought it.  So I decided to add it to my list!  I think I'd like either a dark grey or black!

[three] Kendra Scott earrings in grey. These too have been on my list for a while.  I finally got my hands on the Kendra Scott necklace I've been wanting thanks to Rocks Box.  But I'm still itching for the medium sized earrings in grey.

[four] Tarte undereye corrector.  In the last few months I've noticed I've developed dark circles under my eyes.  I've tried a couple of different brands that I've picked up at Target but I found that this brand does the best job.  My friend Ashtyn introduced it to me and I've been meaning to stop by an Ulta and pick it up and just haven't.  So on the list it goes.

[five] Two toned Citizen watch.  Jenny is the one who introduced me to this watch a year ago.  I had a watch I was perfectly happy with that my brother got me for Christmas about 2 years ago.  Sadly though it finally broke.  So I have been watch less since July.  And right now Citizen watches are on sale at Macy's!  I think this baby is at the top of my Christmas list! :)

[six] Herringbone Vest from J Crew (or something similar) THIS VEST.  I adore it.  It is the perfect winter vest if you ask me.  Recently a friend bought one just like the J Crew version off of amazon for half the price too.  I was in the J Crew Outlet last week though and tried it on.  It needs home in my closet.  Along with a red plaid shirt!

[seven] A Fit-Bit.  Do I need one? No.  Do I want one?  YES!  Mostly because I'm a huge fan of all the bands you can buy to go with one.  And to remind myself of just how "unfit" I actually am! lol

Well there ya go.  I would honestly be happy with just about anything.  As you get older its harder and harder to answer the question, "What do you want for Christmas."  So hopefully this is helpful!

Linking up with Jenn and Jess for:

I'm heading home for Thanksgiving.  Wish me luck on my 10 hour drive! :)

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Weekend

Well y'all I think my "Blogger's Block" is finally over.  I have a whole slew of blog ideas waiting in the wings for the next few weeks and I could not be more excited about it! 

To kick things off lets rejoice in the fact that I have 2 days of school and then we are FREE for Thanksgiving break!  WOO HOO!  I will say I'm jealous of some of my fellow teachers (like my mom and dad) who have the entire week off.  Sadly we do not.  But I'm going to make the best of it!

So unlike the last few weekends this weekend was jam packed with stuff!  

These were the highlights:

- The last two weekends I've had the house entirely to myself.  And I have to say.....I don't hate it.  I thought I would absolutely hate being alone for so long, but I don't.  It's giving me a taste of what I'll be like to maybe live by myself at some point and I think I'll like it.

- The "ember" months have been full of weddings for me and this weekend was no different.  I went to my friend Samson's wedding on Saturday and had a fantastic time.  It was a small late morning/early afternoon wedding and it was just perfect for this particular bride and groom.  Plus it was great seeing a bunch of my old co-workers from last year.  I may have hated the kids and the school itself, but I did NOT hate my team. They were amazing.

- Got to wear my new lip gloss from Cover Girl.  I'm calling it my holiday color because you will be seeing a ton over the coming weeks.  It's from the Lava Lips line and the shade is Live Love Lava.  It is the perfect shade of holiday red.  I'm obsessed. (Thank you Suzanne for introducing it to me!)

- Christmas came to our house this weekend. Yes it happened before Thanksgiving but before I'm given any grief about it, I'm going home for Thanksgiving and by the time I get back it'll be the first of December.  So I decided to put everything up this weekend so I don't have to next week and can just enjoy it when I walk in the door late Sunday afternoon!

-Binged watched half of the first season of the CW's Reign.  I am obsessed with this show.  How I didn't know about it when it was on is beyond me.  But now I'm obsessed with learning more about Mary, Queen of Scots. If you haven't seen it and you like historical dramas, do yourself a favor and watch this.  It's good.  Can't wait to finish it off during Thanksgiving break.

-Did lots of blog planning! I have my totally boring two day professional development from last week to thank for that.  Sitting there totally bored gave me plenty of time to think.  So Sunday morning I was able to sit down and set up a plan for each post.

- Trained Brady to stay away from the Christmas tree.  I have no issues with Sadie and Christmas trees.  She leaves them completely alone just like she does everything else.  Brady on the other hand is a complete mess and is into EVERYTHING.  So I've been nervous about how he would react to the tree.  Thankfully he's been pretty good.  I've squirted him a few times and he seems to have gotten the message.  As I type this he's actually sound asleep underneath the tree and it's totally adorable.  So as long as he stays under it and not in it, we should be good!

-  Got to wear a new outfit since the high yesterday was only 55!  I originally saw this outfit on Jenn from Going the Distance.  She showed it off in a post a few months back and when I saw it I knew I had to recreate it! And I finally got all the pieces together!  I am SO in love with this look.  I wore it today and am tempted to wear it to work tomorrow.  #outfitrepeater #dontcare ! Thanks for the inspiration Jenn!  Hope you don't mind that I totally copied you! :)

Stripped Tunic: Old Navy
Vest: Old Navy
Boots: Target
Scarf: Target
Leggings: Cotton On

- Made time both Saturday AND Sunday morning to dig into my new book, The Storyteller.  I'm really enjoying it.  Expect a review on it next week.  :)

- Sunday evening was spent practicing my photography skills on a friend from work and her husband.    I offered to take their Christmas card pictures for them so I could get some practice in.  First of all these two are absolutely GORGEOUS, so taking pictures of them was super easy.  Plus my camera did about 95% of the work but I like to think I'm getting better and better every time!  Here are just a few of my personal favorites from our session! 

Well that about wraps it up.  I love weekends that are a mix of relaxation and fun.  Which is exactly what this past weekend was.  

Now, just gotta get through today and tomorrow and I'm FREE for the rest of the week!  :) 

Have a great Monday friends! :)

Linking up with Biana!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Oh Hey Friday!

Man oh man what a week!  I am so glad it's Friday.  This week has been one of the most exhausting weeks I've had in while.  Although, even though it was exhausting it was a pretty darn good.

Here were my top 5 things from the week!

[one] I wore one of my favorite outfits to date.  Remember my little shopping excursion to Old Navy?  Well here is what was put together based on two of said items.  I from the minute I walked out of the locker room and was showered with compliments  Most of said compliments came from my 8th graders. They were big fans of my outfit.  Here were some of my favorite comments:

"Ms. Norris! Your outfit is on fleek." (That's 8th grade slang in case you were wondering)

"Ms. Norris I love your outfit."

"Those boots are so Harry Stiles." (I'm sorry what?)

"You look like an H&M model."

There were a few more but those are the ones that stood out!

[two] WE HAVE OUR GIVEAWAY WINNERS!! Congratulations to Ashley from The Wandering Weekenders and Jordan from The Former Kennedy!  Y'all are my two winners!  Thank you for entering the giveaway!  Head over to the Southern Crochet Cafe's easy site by click here and pick your cozie!  Stephanie can also do a custom order if you want her too!  Be on the look out for an email from me this weekend to give you all the details you need to get your cozie! :)

[three]  One of the reasons this week has been so exhausting is because I started my 5:30 am morning basketball practices.  Which means I've been getting up at 4:00 am every day this week.  (Save for today, thank god).  I've learned so much about basketball and it's been good (y'all should see my layup, it's pretty darn good if I do say so myself!)  but boy am I tired!  It's been a series of two cup of coffee kinda mornings.

[four]  I got to attend a fantastic professional development yesterday.  It was full of some fantastic activities that will make learning about US History way more fun.  Those are the best kind of PDs if you ask me.  The ones where you actually have a ton of stuff to take back to school with you.  Plus it was a day away from the students, so that's always nice!

[five]  I've been shopping around from my 2016-2017 planner.  I absolutely LOVED my Erin Condren planner this last year but I've been looking at some other options as well.  So I decided to bring it to the blog.  Do y'all have any planner suggestions for me?   What's your favorite planner?!  I need help here people!

[five.five]  I'm having trouble with Bloglovin.  I went in and changed my URL because I wanted something that sounds a little more official than just my name.  But when I tried to make the change to Bloglovin I couldn't get the new URL to take and so my old URL is still on my blog's BlogLovin profile.  I've contacted Bloglovin about it so hopefully I can the new URL switched and everything will work the way it should!    Please don't think I've deleted my blog because I haven't!  UPDATE:  I just ended up changing it back to the old URL....that's what I get for trying to change things again.  Womp womp


Alrighty that's about it.  I have to admit I'm having a little case of blogger block.  I having trouble deciding on content worthy blog posts.  Isn't it funny how that happens.  You have a great few months of consistent blogging and than BAM!  You're hit with a block.  Fingers crossed I snap out of it soon! Any tips for overcoming blogger block?  I could use some inspiration! :)

Have a great weekend!

Linking up for:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Go Ahead Tours: A Review

At this time last year, I was frantically saving money for the biggest trip I've ever taken.

At this time last year, in just about 99% of my conversations I brought up the fact that I was going to Europe.

At this time last year,  I was reading review after review about Go Ahead Tours.

And now it's time for me to write one of my own.  It's been just over 1 year since we decided we wanted to go to Europe.  It took me that long to be able to gather all my thoughts and feelings about our trip. Thus why it took me so long to write out each part of our amazing trip.  But now is the time.

Go Ahead Tours is the tour company my friends and I decided to use for Epic European Adventure.  It is a part of the EF Cultural Travel family.  Go Ahead Tours is their "adult" travel company and EF is their student travel company.

Jenny and I decided we wanted to take a trip to Europe in September of last year (you can read that very first post here!).  And after about a week and half of interest research I finally stumbled on Go Ahead's Grand Tour of Europe.  They had everything we were looking for:

Multiple countries/cities? check
Flights included? check
Hotels included? check
Entrance to some of the bigger attractions? check
Tour of each major city we went to? check
Flexible payment plan? check

After deciding that Go Ahead was going to be the tour company for us, we set a date to book!  That date was October 3rd.  Go Ahead asks for a $300 deposit for all of its tours and then you are able to make payments, set at your own pace and budget.  You just have to have the tour paid by the set date. In our case that date was May 8th(ish).  I have to say this was one of my favorite things about the company.

Alrighty, so I struggled a little with how to write this review and then I decided to just keep it simple. I've broken down each part of the tour and written a little blurb about our experience with each.  Please keep in mind that these are 100% my own opinions and thoughts!

The Go Ahead Team:  The customer service team was fantastic.  They were so helpful each and every time I called them (which was a lot).  They were so friendly and knowledgeable from the moment we decided to book until the moment we set foot back in the States.  They even let me extend the date my last payment was due by a week.  I was very impressed with their level of guest service ( and that's coming from someone who worked for a company who was the highest possible standard when it comes to guest service).

The flights: Having flown across the pond one other time in my life, I knew this would not be my favorite part.  I love traveling and airports and everything but being cooped up on a plane for 10+ hours is just awful (unless of course you're flying first class, which we did not).  But I was very happy with the flight plans the Go Ahead team found for us.  We had a nonstop flight from Houston to London on the way there and a single layover in Canada on the way back.  Not too shabby.  Everyone was super surprised when I told them we had a nonstop on the way there.  So well done Go Ahead!

The hotels: This is one area we were slightly nervous about.  We were given our hotel information 30 days before our trip and obviously I obsessed over the hotels (you can read my post on that here).  We had tons of questions about the hotels...are the rooms gonna be small? is the breakfast gonna be good? is it gonna be like we see on the website?  Now having been on the tour the hotels were pretty great.  The were super modern and had fantastic amenities, especially in the more northern countries. Once we started to head south there was definitely a change.  Less air conditioning the further south we got which we found funny.  Overall though we were very pleased with the hotels selected by the company.  They were much better than we were anticipating!

The guided tours: In each city we were given a guided tour of the city.  For the most part each tour guide was very knowledgeable and interesting.   Some were more entertaining than others but that is not Go Ahead tours fault.

The tour director:  Each tour comes with it's very own tour director.  Since we were visiting so many countries we were blessed with a tour director who spoke 5 languages!! And boy did those come in handy. He was in charge of making our trip run seamlessly.  And thankfully he more or less accomplished that.  He made himself available to us day and night.  He helped us come up with day of itineraries in each of the cities we had free time in.  I was very glad we had done our own research before coming because I felt like it made it easier for our tour director to help us plan out our time.  He was especially helpful and needed once we started taking trains everywhere!  I'm now confidant that if I ever go to Europe sans a tour company I would be able to navigate the train stations because of John.  (Oh yeah that was his name! :) )  He was extremely helpful and we were lucky to have him!

The excursions:  We went on 4 different excursions that cost between $50 and $100 extra, depending on what the excursion entailed. I enjoyed each of the excursions we went on and thought they really added to our overall experience.  Especially going to the Vatican and Versailles.  I would highly suggested looking into the excursions especially if this is your first time going to Europe.  I know that there were one or two excursions on our trip that our fellow group members said they could have skipped.

The group size:  We were very lucky on our tour.  Our group size was only about 20 so it was very manageable getting around every where.  Plus everyone in our group was so nice.  It took no time at all for us all to become fast friends.  At the end of the tour we all exchanged addresses, phone numbers and email addresses so we could all stay in touch.  There was always someone to talk to and hang out with which was nice as well.

The overall experience:  Overall I was very happy with my tour experience. That's not to say that Go Ahead couldn't improve on a few things.  Here are few areas I think could use some work:

-It would have been nice to have a better idea of travel times between places.  There were a few times that the travel between cities took longer than we anticipated so come major landmarks were missed.  For example in Paris, travel from the train station took much longer than we all thought it would.  And so we ended up missing going to the Louvre (you can read more about my mini sob fest because of that here!).

-There was one experience while we were in Germany that we all hated.  It was a river cruise of on the Rhine River.  On our itinerary it was described as river cruise packed with historical castles and gorgeous views.  It also said we would enjoy a wine/beer tasting while aboard.  The reality was an overcrowded boat that smelled terrible.  By the time we made it on board we could only sit below desk and so we had a terrible view of the 4 castles we actually saw.  And the "wine/beer tasting" was in reality a drink ticket for your choice of 2 different wines and 1 type of beer.  It was not what any of us were expecting and quite honestly could have been skipped all together.

Would I use them again?  ABSOLUTELY!! I would not hesitate to use them again.  In my opinion Go Ahead does a fantastic job of showing you the highlights of every major city you visit on their tours.  Yes, there were a few disappointing moments but all the other fantastic moments 100% outweighed the bad ones.  We were so happy with our choice.  And now I'm itching to take another trip. I'm actually already looking at another trip I want to take with them in the summer of 2017.  I can't decide between a trip of just the UK or a trip around Eastern Europe!


I really hope this review helps.  I could not have had a better trip to Europe and that is in large part thanks to Go Ahead Tours!  If you have any questions at all please feel free to email me.  I love talking about my trip and would love to help in any way I can! :)

Linking up for:

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Weekend

Well it's the start of a a brand new week!  My weekdays are about to look a whole lot different too.  Volleyball officially ended two weeks ago and last week basketball started.  Yep you read that right, not only am I coaching volleyball but I'm also coaching basketball.  And I know even less about that sport than I did about volleyball. So there ya go.  On top of that, I'm going from having practices after school to having them before school.  So when I say my weekdays are about to look a lot different I mean that they'll be starting at 4:30am everyday. YIKES!  But at least I will have my afternoons free and open! :)

Alrighty on to my weekend. It's highlights included:

-Realizing it was my blogs 5 year anniversary!  I can be really bad about dates sometimes so when I looked at Facebook on Friday afternoon and saw that my best friend Ashley had shared that I had posted a link to my blog on her Facebook with a comment about that happening in 2010, I was shocked.  I've been typing away about the last 5 years of my life on my little space of the internet and didn't even realize it.  So expect a whole post dedicated to this later in the week! :)

- A trip to the Houston Renaissance Festival was planned and then canceled due to inclement weather.  But said trip has been rescheduled for next weekend! Fingers crossed the weather is as good as it was yesterday!

- Dinner and movie. Dinner was Torchy's Tacos a Texas staple and movie was Bridge of Spies.  If you love Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and historically based films you'll like this.

- Brady has found a new place to hang out.

- A relaxing Saturday afternoon, where the majority of the day was spent in PJs.

- One of my favorite authors released a new book.

- I'm itching to put up my Christmas decor just like everyone else in the world.  But I have a roommate who is against that practice until after Thanksgiving.  So I'm enjoying a few more weeks of Fall decor before I bust out all my Christmas stuff. (PS. as soon as she's outta's happening)

- A Sunday afternoon trip to Target was in order.  They've really stepped up their Christmas decor game this year.  I've been pretty disappointed with what they've had the last 2 years but this year, it took all I had to not buy one of everything.

- Enjoyed some much needed relaxation time in the comfort of my bed.  Nothing is better than a cup of coffee and bed.

Don't forget to go and enter the giveaway from Thursday's post! You could win you or a friend one of these super cute coffee cozies!  They'd make a great Christmas gift! :)

- Had a few people over to celebrate my friend Whitney's birthday.  Jenny made her super yummy turkey chili (click here to head to Jenny's blog for the recipe).  There was some great conversation and lots of laughter!  It was a great way to wrap up a fun and relaxing weekend! :)

Well there ya have it!  I'm a fan of weekends like this last one.

Have a great Monday friends!

Linking up with Biana: