Friday, July 1, 2016

Making New Choices: Do You FarmShare?



The dude and I have been working to make some serious lifestyle changes around our house. We want to first start with our bodies and the physical. We want to live more naturally and organically, but still be frugal about it. One of the great ways we can do that in our community is by participating in a CSA Farm Share. For $410.00/year (June-October-ish) we get fresh, organic, locally grown produce! When your dude is vegan, that's amazing!

We started by first doing some research and had some basic questions:

1. What is a Farm Share?
    Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. (According to Local Harvest)

2. How will it benefit our health?
   Eating organically helps protect us from overexposure to GMOs (genetically modified organisms), helps with our allergies, and supports a clean eating lifestyle. It also encourages us to be social and puts some of that back into our experience with food. For centuries of the human experience, food was a community-based social event with sharing and trade taking place. In America especially, that is something we tend to lack. 

3. What benefits will it have for our community?
   Knowing the exact location where your lettuce grew is pretty cool, I won't lie. It feels pretty awesome to be able to drive past the farm each day on my way to work and see what they're up to. Also, shopping local is statistically proven to strengthen the economy in your area. As a local public school teacher. I'm down with that. This great infographic really breaks it down:




4. Is it worth the price?
  For us, it definitely is. On average we would make 3-4 trips a week to the store for produce. My guy being vegan means that produce and veggies are our main source of nutrients because our diet is plant based. So, it averages to about $15-20 dollars a week. We were spending triple that. It really helps us keep our budget under control. 
   
5. How does it work?
  Each CSA works differently but ours is pretty straightforward. Our CSA, Field to Fork, has several different sized options for families to choose from. The price varies by that size also, which is great. It really works within our budget and amounts we're comfortable with.  You do get a lot of food too! So far we have really enjoyed our experience and highly recommend joining a CSA! 

Here's some images we snapped during last weeks pick up!



I'm not going to lie... we ate almost all the cherries in the car on the way back to the house. They were so delicious!



Need more information on Farm Shares? Here are some great sources!

Happy eating, my friends!





Monday, June 6, 2016

Budget-Friendly DIY Bridal Shower


When my best friend from college asked me to be her Maid of Honor, I was totally thrilled! I would be able to stand up beside her at her wedding and watch her pledge to be unified with the man of her dreams. We went through a lot in college together- like the teaching program, the long hours of first year teaching, and the struggles of dating and post-grad life.

I wanted to make sure that the Bridal Shower we threw for her was going to do her justice. Here were some of the goals and themes we had for the day:
  • Be creative! Our friend is amazingly creative so we wanted to honor that.
  • Use the wedding colors (teal, burlap, chalkboard, etc.)
  • Have games that don't totally suck.
  • Prizes that people want to win
  • Easy set up and tear down.

Our invite asked people to bring a recipe for two, a bottle of wine for the couple, and a bible verse/quote to share!


Our total budget for the wedding was roughly $200.00 (not including the food). That included:
  • Invites (made mine online for free here and just inserted it into the body of an email to her friends and family. I also shared it via our event on Facebook.
    • Total cost for invitations: $0.00
  • Decorations. We used a bunch of stuff that another bridesmaid is using at her wedding, and other things that we had on hand between all of us. 
    • Total cost for decor: $45.00
    • Bride-to-Be Sash: $21.00  I got a really cool customizable one on Etsy here
  • Venue. Originally we considered going to a church or something like that- but instead we did it at her mama's house. It worked great and was free.
    • Total cost for venue: $0.00
  • Games & Prizes. I found some great games online at Etsy.com and we printed them ourselves. I then bought a package of Blue Ball jars from Target and filled those with fun prizes with different themes to each. We had one prize per game.
    • Total cost of 6 games (got em here): $10.40
    • Total cost of prizes: $45.00 (though I did go to Sephora and Ulta and ask for free samples of perfume and make up to put inside the prizes.)
  • Food & Drink: The bride's mama organized all of the food and she did a remarkable job! We did the shower in the afternoon and wanted to go with finger foods and mama had that on lock! 
    • She made a variety of things (mini BLTs, spinach balls, chocolate covered Oreos (MY FAVE!), mini caramel apples, rice krispies, and little sandwich wheels.) It was delicious. 
    • Drinks were pretty straight forward. I brought two fancy dispensers with the little spigots that make it easy. We had Sangria and sorbet punch. 
  • "Stations." We set up some fun stations around the shower for people to cycle in and out of to make sure everyone has something to do and make meaningful gifts for the Bride. More about that later!
    • Total cost: $70.00
Now I'll take you on a tour! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves for the most part. 


As she walked in we wanted it to be a surprise! That's the big part that she was excited about, she didn't want to have much to do with the planning. So, as she walked in, she was greeted by this veil on the door!




She did supply us with some awesome photos of her and the groom together. We used twine, little clothespins in her wedding colors, and dollies from Hobby Lobby and strung it up. Everyone loved it!


The games that we got off Etsy were a big hit! They included:
  • What's on your phone?
  • He Said/She Said
  • Scattegories
  • Word Scramble
  • Scratch-Off Game
Plus they were super cute! We got to order them in gold and blue so they matched her theme. 



We had the party set up in stations. One of them was to buy this beautiful leather bound bible from our local Barnes & Nobles and have it set up for people to highlight their verse. Some people aren't as comfortable with that, so we also added a couple moleskins in the wedding colors to give people a space to put their quotes. It was a big hit! We set it up in the backyard looking across the grass with a chalkboard for instructions.




My personal favorite was our photo booth station! I used a foam board I may or may not have found in the supply closet at school to cut out a frame for the Polaroid! Use an exacto blade. I tried to cut mine with scissors. It was not a good idea.


We brought some props (that will actually reappear at the wedding...) for people to have a good time! We added a chalkboard for people to write on for how they met the bride. It was fun! Plus, if you cropped it to put on Insta, it worked perfectly and looked awesome!





 Another station that we had set up was a letter writing station. The bride and I had gone to the store previously and picked out a scrapbook that she loved. We invited everyone to spend some time writing a letter to the bride for her to read on her wedding day. She can't see it until then! It was really special to see people sitting around the table sharing their love and thoughts for the bride and her soon-to-be hubby.


In the living room we had the gift opening station set up. We had a cool vintage box that was originally a box for shoes but we stole it for bottles of wine for the bride and groom! We're hoping it helps them get through that first year together! One of the bridesmaids made those great tissue paper balls and we used a a DIY chalkboard to tell people where everything should go. 


She seemed to totally love it and I couldn't be more grateful! It was a challenge to organize a bridal shower from 250 miles away, but I'm glad we put it together! The other bridesmaids and the Mother of the Bride were instrumental in making it a day that she would cherish.

And Poochie, he was loving it too.




Together we made an awesome thing happen and I am so excited! The wedding is only three weeks away and it should be a night to remember. :)







Monday, May 30, 2016

Summer 2016: Goals, Bro

Now that I've got the blog back up and running with some changes. I think some goal setting is definitely in order! Since it's the last week of school for me (I'm teaching summer school) that means these are going to be specific summer goals. Let's see what we can make happen!



House Goals:
  • Keep the place clean. Sorry, reality is, that's a thing. 
  • Repair chain link fence
  • Install privacy fence along the back of the lot
  • Repaint deck awning roof
  • Successfully combine boyfriend things and my things
  • Set up a "Dude" space for Brennan
  • Set up a blogging and computer space for me
  • Optimize storage
  • Clean out storage shed (sell unneeded items!)
  • Increase efficiency in the house. 

Personal Goals:

  • Read at least 4 novels! I have an entire box that I want to read, but to at least get a few knocked out would be magical!
  • Join a club or group, even if it's a digital blogging group! (Any suggestions? Comment them below!)
  • Make fitness more of a habit. Not just FitnessWholePizzaInMyMouth, but being active at the gym and outdoors.
  • Take the dogs on more walks and focus on their training more intentionally. They're barky little assholes sometimes.
  • Enjoy the great state of Colorado that I live in more often and more thoroughly!

Finance Goals:

  • Use energy and such in the house more efficiently to cut down on expenses.
  • Pay of Sebastian's Vet bills! ($2100.00. ugh. PETS!)
  • Use cash ONLY.
  • Build a couples budget that works!
  • Consistently use the Everydollar.com budget program to keep track of expenses and bills. I've used it for about a year and so far LOVE it. For not-so-mathy people like me, it really helps to visualize and see where my money is going and what it is doing. 
Blog Goals:
  • Post once a week.
  • Revamp social media presence
  • Maybe get 5 new followers?
  • Make 1 new blog friend!
  • Get some great new pictures of the casa for the Home Tour tab!


Monday, May 23, 2016

5 Tips to Survive Your First 3 Years Teaching


Dude. Being a teacher is some hard stuff. I won't lie to you, my beloved blog readers, when I first started teaching, I imagined this magical life where we all sat down together, read novels, discussed our findings within them and there was 90% participation from students (come on, I'm a realist! I know it can't be 100%). Any troubled students I faced would be easily redirected with a discovery of the right book for them.

It all seemed so right.

Wrong-o.

Now, I'm certainly not saying we don't do those things. We definitely do. But there are some realities that didn't hit me until the end of this "Probationary" period of teaching. 

Here's some of the things I tell incoming teachers now:

  1. Get really good at emailing. It may seem weird that this is first, but seriously, it will save you so much time. Learning to send meaningful, concise, friendly, and professional emails right out of the gate is key. As a young or new teacher you have to make sure that all of your interactions are professional. So, brush up on your use of commas. Think about how you dealt with angry customers at your college retail job and apply that to every interaction. This will make parents and other teachers connect with you more. Don't be afraid of a smiley face, and invent a professional looking signature.
  2. Find an ally in the building. You are going to face conflict, and that shit is going to suck. Just being for real. You will conflict with an experienced teacher who is thrown off by your enthusiasm and naivete, or another new teacher who doesn't agree with you, or a principal who wants to redirect you. That does NOT mean you are a bad teacher or are going to be a bad teacher, it means you and that person are different. Find someone in the building you feel comfortable with that will help talk you through that conflict. Probs not someone that will spread any drama further but that can gently redirect you when you need it or motivate you to keep going. Conflict is healthy, learning to manage it will save you a lot of stress. 
  3. Get plugged in to some kind of program. I know a lot of teachers that dislike working after school hours. We work a lot, we work really hard, we don't get enough wine or naps. This is true. Don't feel like you have to take on a club or program, but if you love basketball, go to a basketball game once in awhile. I love volleyball but coach a different sport, so on the evenings I can I help to run the line judging so I can stay involved. The community sees me in that role and it helps! Plus seeing the kids is great.
  4. Let your weird flag fly. I jump on the desk when I teach the Gettysburg Address or act out my funny stories about my dogs hiding in the bathtub. Kids love it. If you are a nerd about a mascot or a cartoon character, let your kids know. I love the Little Mermaid. I have 6 mermaid related coffee cups and an entire upper cabinet filled with memorabilia that is of the nautical sort. Whether it is your love for fish, favorite song, sports team, or movie, let kids see you as a real person. 
  5. Give yourself some grace. If you don't want to stay home and grade papers on a Friday night, don't do it. If you don't want to grade outside of school, don't assign work that needs extensive grading. I pre-plan my courses before school even starts at the beginning of each semester so I know when is the most packed. I plan on one assignment a semester I'll bring home. Since I travel a lot for my coaching roles, its made a big difference. Also, Teachers Pay Teachers  is a life saver and filled with great stuff. You don't have to invent a bunch of worksheets. Someone probably already has. 

Have other advice for new teachers or want more tips and tricks? Comment below or post it on Facebook! 



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

6 New Things You'll See on #TMB

Helloooo, again, everyone!

I am back and you may have noticed... This Messy Business has a new look! It's pretty fantastic. Stream-lined, simplified, and easy to manage. Now that we've got a new look, we're also going to have some new content. I'm super excited about it!

Here are 5 of the things you'll spot on the new and improved #TMB.

1.  You'll still see house updates! I love my little house and plan on still sharing any and all updates that I've got going on. It may not be anything major, like a kitchen remodel, but it'll still be great and fun!



2. Finances! and our Debt-Free Journey. We are working on becoming totally debt-free (except the mortgage) by 30, so you'll see some tips on how to stay motivated, what happens when you lose steam, resources, and money saving help. This will be linked under the "Lifestyle!"

3. Clean living. We are also making a shift towards more clean living and eating in our house. From changing products to investing in our community and learning to grow our own herbs. We are working to minimize, simplify, and live more with less. Check out the "Cook Book" tab for recipes!

4. Fashion! Though we want to minimize and live more simply, I still love my clothes and shoes! So, that's gonna happen. You'll see more posts about that and more! Another one for the Lifestyle tab!

5. Colorado lifestyle and adventures. We are looking to take advantage of the great country and county we live in! We are going to go on some fun adventures this summer from helping with weddings, to camping, hikes, wine tasting, or whatever strikes our fancy. Find these under the"Lifestyle" tab.

6. Teacher Tips. I'm a high school English teacher and High School Speech & Debate Coach. I absolutely love my job. But it is hella hard sometimes. I'll be posting ideas on how to manage and balance teaching, life, and staying sane. Check these out under the "Teacher's Corner" tab!

Have something else you'd like to see featured on the blog or advice as i get restarted? Let me know in the comments below!


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Thursday, April 21, 2016

This Messy Re-Vamp: A New Journey

It has been a very long time since I have made any blog posts. Obviously, I guess, right? There's a number of reasons that I haven't felt compelled to write a post and a couple things I plan to do about it.

The top five reasons I haven't blogged:





1. I'm poor. When I first started blogging in 2008 I was super pumped- I mean seriously so excited! I had a new house! a new college! new roommates! new boyfriend! freedom! I had so many things I wanted to do to my house to make it a cute version of all the blogs I saw online or the pictures on Pinterest. The hard part? All those things cost money and it isn't feasible to redo rooms over and over because you want to keep your blog going.

2. I can't say no. This is a terrible problem, and I am definitely working on it. I agreed in my first 3 years of teaching to do too many things at the same time. I was worried that if I said "No" I might get fired, non-renewed, people wouldn't like me, any number of things. Reality is, none of the above things are true. I'm stepping away from a few responsibilities to focus on my personal life, coaching, and teaching career.

3. Discouragement. I feel as though discouragement is a product of the first two. I didn't feel like I could write anything anyone but my mom would want to read, so, what was the point? I lost sight of the fact that I enjoy writing my blog, even if no one really reads it. I love having an outlet for my creativity that goes beyond just who I am as a professional educator.

4. Intimidation. Dude. For real. There are some AWESOME blogs out there. They're letters are cool, their headers are cool, they have 6.89 billion followers on Instagram. They have newsletters. They're #bombdotcom. That can be a scary thing to feel like you're up against. I sort of doubt my little tiny segment of the internet will ever get that big. Which is fine! I think it might be easier that way.

5. Burn out & disappointment. The result of all of the above. I started feeling more disappointed in myself and the things I hadn't done for my blog or for myself in the last few years that I could keep writing.



What I plan to do about it:


1. Read some blogs and get inspired. I've spent the last few weeks talking to my Best Blog Friend Forever, Sam, at Away She Went. She recently revamped her blog and brought new life to it that has been super exciting to follow. Find a few blogs that I love to read and want to be active with will help me find inspiration.

2. Revamp the "niche" or purpose of my blog. I love doing home remodeling and DIY projects, but I've owned my house for 8 years (as of May) and am nearly out of major projects that need to be done. Now we're down to the boring and expensive stuff like repainting the exterior, getting new blinds, fixing the car port, putting up a privacy fence. The major stuff is finished. Plus, I spend more of my time trying to live simply, my boyfriend and I are shifting to a more natural vegan lifestyle, and I am a full-time teacher. I think finding a way to shift my focus will really help me reconnect to the writing that I love to do.

3. Give myself some grace. I don't have to have the most #totesamaze blog on the planet. There will always be someone in a better situation that can do something cooler, create something better, or be wittier then I am. That's okay. Popularity shouldn't be my motivation anyway.

So, my plan is to get it together and get my blog going again for the right reasons this time. I'm going to get a redesign, clean up old posts and categories, and do something that I love. I am excited for a re-vamp and redirecting my blog to be more about living a simplified fulfilling life.