Thursday, May 31, 2012


We finalized our Teacher Leader Portfolios in the last couple weeks. Technically, we should have done the work over the year, updating it a little bit at a time. I'm a terrific procrastinator and prioritized so many other things above the portfolio (like the work for teachers!) so I had to hurry and finish it during the last full week of school.

One of the final activities with our portfolios was a wordle. You can copy a TON of text into their website, and their system make s a fancy word cloud. The more often a word is used, the bigger it gets in the cloud. My portfolio was pretty long, but the wordle synthesizes it pretty well. I talk a lot about teachers, students and our learning together. "Year" is so big because I talked about looking over the past year a lot but also planning ahead for next year!

We're still going for another week, and these days are a lot longer. I miss the teachers and the students, but luckily I get to see some of both next week. I also really miss the other TL from my building who is home with her new baby. I do like getting extra time with my teacher leader friends and free lunches. I presented yesterday (it went great) and am totally counting the days till next Friday!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Green Tomatoes at Pendleton's.

Mom and I took advantage of an extra day off over the weekend to make a trip to Pendleton's just outside of Lawrence for tomatoes! We've been going to Pendleton's since Lauren and I were little girls. Mom would make us walk along the rows and pick asparagus with her. I don't think I realized or appreciated how easy it would have been for me to reach down and snap off the asparagus before I got so tall! It's a long ways to the ground!

But these tomatoes are totally up my alley. They are planted to grow tall in the greenhouse and produce very early tomatoes. As you can see, they are already taller than me and growing a ton of tomatoes. John Pendleton taught us all about how they grow in buckets of soil very similar to the mix that we used in our Virginia garden - peat moss, vermiculite, and finely ground bark. It was a lesson in agriculture and in tomatoes, maybe my favorite summer veggie (or fruit?!)

Mom and I took home a box of tomatoes, most of them under ripe. They get red very quickly - the ones in my kitchen are almost all perfect 24 hours later. I'm enjoying them with black bean burgers, egg salad, sandwiches and just in thick slices standing in the kitchen. I'm loving all this early summer food!

PS. Photos taken on my iPhone. Who-hoo! I'm in the club!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

End of the Year Granola.

I have a small problem with baking - when I find something I really love, I can't stop baking it until I know I've really got it figured out. I've been making homemade granola for a couple years, and while in Virginia, I perfected a recipe Rachel really loves. She's transformed it into an awesome version packed with Nutella and cocoa dusted almonds. It's really pretty delicious.

For Erica's birthday, I made cherry chocolate coconut granola from Annie's Eats, and it remains the only recipe of hers that I'm not thrilled about. It was good, but the humidity/stickiness were way off. It could be user error on my end, so I'm not holding it against her.

My great aunt Kathi and I used to talk at length about how to make granola that clumps. Then in the April issue of Cook's Illustrated, there it was. "Super-Chunky Granola." Their basic version was almond, and I made it with cherries for Abbey's shower earlier this month. Perfection. I loved the clumps, I loved the flavor, and I really loved that it wasn't sticky and didn't burn. Also with only 8 ingredients - that I had on hand - it was super easy to make. In comparison, the best granola recipe of 2011 had me crawling on the floor of Whole Foods looking for "Brown Rice Dream Syrup." Not worth it.

I made two more batches (I know, I'm nuts!) early last week for teachers at school. I made the tropical variety with pineapple, nutmeg and macademia nuts, as well as the spiced pecan and cranberries granola. They were good too! Erica loved the tropical zest, and I think the pecan/cranberry recipe would be perfect for Christmas time. I packaged it up with these cute little tags and took them to the teachers I'm so lucky to work with at my school!

If you've really read this really long post about granola, and you'd like the recipe or a sampling, just let me know and I'll hook you up. You deserve it at this point.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend with the Ladies.

While I have seen a nice assortment of my friends this weekend, the ladies I am referring to in the title of this post are Belle and Lucy! The little one belongs to Erica and Jon, and we've been hanging out since Thursday. It's gone really really well - except after 9 pm at night.

Belle keeps a pretty strict 9:30 bedtime, but Lucy didn't get that memo. Belle tried to teach her that we relax late at night, but Lucy's always trying to get Belle to wrestle! It's pretty hilarious - I got it on video. But probably the only people who will appreciate it are people who love Belle or Lucy.

Lucy does like to take a few more photos than Belle does. In the one on the left, she is on the outside looking in. The girls spent a ton of time outside, enjoying the beautiful Kansas City weather.

I tried to take a photo of Belle, but this is all you get. She's too busy protecting the yard to pose for the camera. But cool bokeh, huh? (That's the blurry background, fyi!)

If I could get her to look at the camera, I would love to capture Belle's bedtime face. It's hilarious. It's pretty much like "Mom, why does this little dog have SO MUCH ENERGY?! Can't you make her calm down?"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Yawn Ahead.

It is almost impossible for me to view this photo of Fiona and not yawn. But when you're not even three weeks old and your mom takes you to a bridal shower, it's really easy to get super worn out. All that growing and eating, oh my! I love her little chub on her arms and her big big yawn. Sweet sweet Fiona.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Impromptu Recipe Exchange via Annie's Eats.

A few of weeks ago, I started a conversation on our friend listserv about an impromptu recipe exchange. It has turned into a love fest for one particular website, Annie's Eats. Out of Indianapolis, her blog is filled with yummy and crowd (or husband) pleasing recipes!

Here are a few of the favorites that members of the listserv have tried and loved.
  • Mexican Lasagna Jon ate half of it before he noticed it was vegetarian, that's how good it was. I think it's better reheated so perfect for lunches! 
  • Chicken Tequila Burgers satisfied even Kate, a lover of all things red meat. These are on my list for next week, using ground chicken from the store. 
  • Classic Mac and Cheese A work friend need to make some macaroni and cheese for her visiting mama, and she said this was a total success. Talk about comfort food!
  • Crispy Baked Chicken Fingers are now officially the best chicken fingers Erica has ever made. When we lived together she made these almond incrusted chicken strips, but both she and Jon said these are much better. 
  • Jalapeno Popper Dip Remember when we went to the Royals game after the break up? Erica brought this dip. It's really yummy and tastes just like jalapeno poppers. 
  • Roasted Chicken Wraps with Black Bean Salsa I made this for dinner last night and ate it on a big bowl of spinach instead of in a wrap. I also ONLY made the salsa and added one avocado and the juice of one lime, omitting the steps of making guacamole and leaving out the cilantro! I'm going to eat it for several meals this week for real. So fresh! (Salsa pictured above!)
There are even more! My friend Allison, the baker, says that Annie's Eats is one of her first places to check for cupcake recipes. Seriously go peruse for a bit, and I'm sure you'll find a few things you love. If you try something or love one of her recipes already, leave it in the comments. We'll be thrilled for more Annie's Eats recommendations!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wedding at the Oread.

Sasha and Mike were married last Friday night. And it was the BEST. She looked like a million bucks, and it was a very lovely rooftop ceremony at the Oread in Lawrence. Windy, but perfect.

I had a minor obsession with the flower girls and little dudes who helped usher in the bride with their "here comes the bride!" banners. The littlest flower girl was just 18 months old, but she made it all the way up the aisle on her tiptoes! The three other flower girls didn't put on their sunglasses until after they dropped their petals, but they were totally strutting their way back down the aisle and making the most of their stardom.

Lauren's graduation party is on this same spot next year with some of her law school friends! Note to future guests: avoid a-line dresses. My skirt was all over the place on the breezy rooftop! But the view was incredible. To the west, Memorial Stadium and the KU Campus. To the east, I'm pretty sure I saw my house in Kansas City.

Lu let me borrow a necklace, and I remembered to give it back, even though I loved it! We ate with some of Sasha's Wichita and Sigma Kappa friends down at the reception in the Oread's ballroom. And then we enjoyed my uncle's toast. I have to give a couple of toasts this year as the maid-of-honor, so I had Lauren record it on her phone for future inspiration. He referenced ebay in his toast, so I've got that as a goal.

Congratulations Sasha and Mike! We are so happy in this picture because our little Roe family of 8 is now officially a family of 9. What a pleasure and an honor to celebrate your wedding with you both. Happy honeymooning!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Planning Parties.

Here's a party that isn't getting submitted anywhere. Mostly because it was disguised as a meeting!

The lighting wasn't great, but the pictures gives you the idea. My role in the organization is to plan three large meetings at a local country club. I get to help decide the menu and plan table centers, but I didn't just stop there. I made a whole theme!

There was an invitation with polka dots, cookies with polka dots, stickers for people to wear with polka dots, and table centers based around bright bags on clearance from Target! We couldn't get away without a little chocolate, and the raspberry M & Ms were the perfect splash of chocolate that matched the theme. Everyone oohed and ahhed over the bright colors for our spring meeting.

And now I have about 40 gift bags stuffed full of tissue in my basement. Their purpose is still undetermined, but we WILL find a use for them!

Really, it's just a blessing that I have some basic design skills and so many great opportunities to put them to work. I love making things brighter and better with a few small touches. (See also, Teacher Appreciation!)

P.S. I didn't make the cookies. So glad too because that is a lot of coloring royal icing! Just thinking about mixing them all makes my arm hurt!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

BFF Birthday.

Could this flower be any prettier? It was huge and definitely in full bloom on Saturday at the shower we had for Abbey. I so want to show you the nine million photos that I took but I'm held up by a couple of things. 1. I took nine million. 2. I am hoping someone publishes it. Rachel explains how that it all works over on this post here.

Speaking of Rachel, today is her birthday! If you're internet friends with Rachel and me on twitter, instagram, or facebook, you know that we miss each other. We like to tweet conversations #rvtweets, she takes pictures of her feet for me on instagram (SICK, Rach, please stop!) and we email about a dozen times a day.

This is not an exaggeration.

Happy birthday partner. I love you like Leslie loves Ann. #RVtweets #parksandrec

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas.

Last week was teacher appreciation week. Did you thank the teachers in your life? It's not too late - you can still give them a shout out this year! Any of these would make great end of the year presents as well!

My life in Virginia was pretty awesome and often cushy compared to the work the teachers do back in KCK. The teachers I work with work hard all the time. It's a seven day a week job, and it's been a fantastic year at our school. Really really awesome.

So we really wanted to do something special for them. We started planning a couple months ago, and then I started pinteresting, and finally designing. Assembly and delivery happened throughout the week, and I think the teachers loved the gifts they received.

Here are some of the sayings:
  • We could use "s'more" teachers like you!
  • You are oFISHally one of the best.
  • Clipboards with a customized sign on the back. I designed, printed and used spray adhesive to attach. We included a matching pen!
  • Thanks for quenching our students' thirst for knowledge.
  • You are an AWesome part of our staff. We served root beer floats on Friday at lunch with the brightest cups. It was a sweet surprise for the teachers!

It's nice to have a place to put my design skills and scallop punch to work. I'm already plotting for next year. We are just a week away from being done and so thankful for that pending summer vacation! (I work until June 8th, but still, the end is near!)
Pin It!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Frog on the Mailbox.

I came home from a quick trip to Manhattan on Monday to a frog sitting on my mailbox. I think the mailman delighted in leaving him perfectly centered. It's a sweet frog that my family in Indy mailed me. My stepmom wrote on the frog, "You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince charming! You will find him." And the rest of the family signed it too. Love it.

Finley (via Rachel) mailed me two of his handprints connected by a piece of ribbon. It was a hug in an envelope.

Their deliveries were especially well timed reminders of how good life is at the end of a perspective shifting day. I rode with Erica's husband Jon to a retirement reception for our favorite K-State professor. Person after person spoke about Candi's impact on their life.

It was not because her house was perfectly painted and landscaped.
Or because she answered every single email in a timely fashion.
Certainly not because she planned a lot of parties.

It was because she cared and nurtured relationships in everything she did for over fifteen years at K-State. I'm a better human being because of her love.

So I'm thinking about reprioritizing a few things and letting a few things go (or trying to at least!). As Jon reminded me today, my house is just a rental. It's not going to be perfect. I don't have to hurry and process any parties before school is out - I need to finish strong with seven more days of school. I am going to focus more on the relationships with the teachers I am privileged to work with each day. And I want to continue to connect with the 50 students who are coming to summer reading club.

It's the way Candi modeled for all of us. So I'll try again to remember that the relationships matter most and way more than all those post-its filled with to-do lists.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fiona on Friday.

I didn't get very many good pictures of Fiona on Wednesday - my fault totally not hers -but I do really love this one. Binky, her dad calls her, is pretty much the sweetest. Tara had to take a final for four hours so I held Fiona for several hours. We rocked, dozed on the couch and looked deep into each others eyes during her limited awake time. Newborns sleep a lot! (Wait, did you already know that?)

Happy Friday and Happy Mother's Day! Tell your mom that she is awesome this Sunday. I plan to tell mine several times. I mean, she gave me life, all ten pounds ten ounces of me, encourages my crazy party planning ideas, and is going to Europe with me in FIVE weeks. I'm pretty much grateful all the time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Can't Talk Right Now.

Today is our (second) Reading Rally. We are unpacking the Book Fair (yeah) and planning for summer reading. Etsy business is booming this week (thank you), and I'm trying to get rid of these bricks.

A couple weeks ago, Abbey's mom encouraged me to pull them out of my landscaping. They are kind of outdated and really hard to mow around. They are also really heavy - I can only lift two of them at a time! We're going to have a much softer look with some mulch and my trimmed down shrubs in front. I posted that these free pavers were sitting on my curb on craigslist this morning at 6:45 and had fourteen inquiries within an hour. I took the post down quickly and really hope they will be gone when I get home! I guess I could have asked if you wanted them first, especially seeing as how popular they are on craigslist. Who knew?

Hope you're having a great Wednesday. The week is practically half way done, and we have exactly two more weeks of school. Plenty of exciting things around here!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fiona's Baptism.

You might expect a post about baptism to include pictures of the baby. Not this one. Fiona was really enjoying some quality time with her extended family, and since I live so close to that sweet little nugget, I let somebody else hold her.

But I did make her a pinterest inspired print for her nursery. I'm kind of obsessed with printing on "luxe" paper from Paper Source. The nursery is navy and white, and the heart is the one and same from Tara's baby shower. There are not a lot of options for navy frames, but I thankfully found one at Hobby Lobby!

Tara ordered a yummy cake from Chacko's, and I made some cookies to go with it. This batch was lemon flavored, and I'm going to give a slight edge to the almond flavoring. Friends - if you had both the lemon and the almond cookies, please weigh in with your vote. Sparkly doves, pink outlined crosses and hearts. So much love on this special day.

And sweet bonus, the flowers are from Abbey's mom's garden. Wouldn't you love to be able to just walk outside and put together arrangements like that? Thankfully she helped me with my garden, so I've got a chance.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cinco de Derby and an RV Parties SALE!

Happy Monday! If you had a weekend like we did (Rachel ran a marathon and I frosted 80 cookies), then you need some good Monday morning news. How about a sale?!

Rachel and I love the work we do over in the Etsy shop. With almost 1000 sales, we've gotten to work with lots of people all over the country (ok, world) and so many of our friends! We do lots and lots of custom work, but we also sell all these sweet little "uncustomized" party packs for only $20. Pirates, bumble bees, ladybugs, baseball, mermaids, mustaches, strawberries, so many options!

If you want to plan ahead, go buy a party pack today. This Monday and Tuesday only, all of the $20 packs are only $5.There are fourteen different options to choose from, so there is probably one that you need.

And if you want the matching invitation, share about our sweet $5 deal on facebook, message us that you shared it, and we'll return the favor with a code for $5 off a matching invitation!

Check it out today. RV Parties on Etsy.

PS. Yes, I realize that running a marathon is FAR COOLER AND HARDER than frosting cookies. I was just being honest.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Royals Game.

For Richard's birthday, I had very carefully planned and coordinated a surprise birthday outing to the Royals' game. Twenty tickets for his friends and my friends, yummy snacks planned for before the game, it was going to be great.

But then we broke up. Sooooo I had a bunch of extra tickets to the Royals' game! When life hands you lemons, you should still have an awesome party.

We met at my house and caravaned to the K for my first game at home in two years! It was pretty chilly, but we made the best of it with some beer to warm the belly. We snacked on homemade cracker jacks, Erica's stuffed jalapeno dip, and my favorite chocolate cherry cookies. I brought bags of sunflower seeds and peanuts for easy sharing, and people took the little bags with them into the park!

James came with his parents after his nap - he's demonstrating in this picture where his ears are. He did great at the game - so did his little buddy Everett! However, Everett disliked when people clapped too loud. Or maybe it was just the performance of the Royals in general. It's tough to say.

Like I said, it was certainly not warm. We had to dig out scarfs and hats for the game!

My friends are the best, and they totally rallied for a good afternoon of food, beer and another Royals' loss. When Dereck found out I had extra tickets, he sold the last couple right outside the gate. Yep, I have the kind of friends that help you make money after a break-up.

This photo is far from the best photo ever. But even with it's imperfections (or probably because of them), I think it's pretty hilarious and just right. And pretty much how I felt about this outing to the K.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Five Books of April.

April was a really good book month. I know because I stayed up late finishing many of these books and have several I want to highly recommend to you. Are you making your summer reading list? Write some of these down. It was a good month for books!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) is the perfect book for anyone who liked Bossy Pants. I feel a little bit like a traitor to say it, but I actually think I liked Mindy's book better! She's closer to my age, and her essays about pop culture, women, family and relationships are spot on and HILARIOUS. I laughed out loud a lot while reading this. She's smart, like super smart, and it shows in her writing. It's a very quick read, and I passed it along to two friends before it was due back at the library. This is an excellent pool read!

Rules of Civility was the book club book of the month, and it was good. I didn't love it as much as my friend Ginny did, but it definitely kept my interest. The protagonist is a young lady trying to advance in NYC in the 30s. One thing that I love when I read this type of book is having a working knowledge of New York. I think authors use the geography of the city to tell the story, and any time spent on a subway helps to understand the context. The natural comparison we all made was to Gatsby, even though the era is a little different. I think I would tell you to read The Great Gatsby again before this book, mostly because I can't wait for this! <--GO LOOK. There are pictures. SWOON.

The Fault in Our Stars is the story of two teenagers with cancer. Hold on - it's not as serious as you think. It's funny, touching, and brilliantly well done. I can't say too much about it without ruining it for you but PLEASE READ IT. I stayed up way too late reading this book, and I am on the list at the library for a few of his other books. Gabby loaned it to me (it takes place in Indianapolis), and I also heard about it on NPR earlier this year. Technically young adult literature, it's a much better fit for the high school and up crowd. It's already been optioned for a movie, but you will miss out if you don't read the book first. It's not a great pool read because you will get sunburned sitting there and trying to finish it.

The Purple Hibiscus was a Candi recommendation, and like most books she recommends, I also loved this one! Abbey already owned it from the African lit class she took in college, and I tore through it. It takes place in Nigeria, and it is the story of a devout Catholic family, political turmoil and extremism, in several ways. I don't have much knowledge about Nigeria, but I did wake on Sunday morning to hear about violence at a university there. So the book and the news made me want to learn more.

The Beginner's Goodbye I thought it would be the first book of May, but I found myself up till 11:30 finishing it so it got squeezed into April! I read a book by Anne Tyler for grad school, Digging to America, and I am definitely late to the Anne Tyler party. This is her 20th book, and I was sold on it after this sweet interview on NPR. The protagonist loses his wife in a tragic accident, and then she starts appearing around town. I liked it - it's ordinary people and a good story. It takes about 40 pages, but then you'll want to know the story too.

One more note about this month's reads: only one is on the Kindle. To keep up with all the reading I'm doing, I have to borrow as many books as I can! Old school I know.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

James and Gram & Dun.

After the race on Sunday, we met up with the Jon, Drew, Adam, James, Kenneth and Melinda for brunch! I made reservations at Gram & Dun even before we were registered for the race, and I was excited to try the food.

It was good, but I am beginning to think Gram & Dun may be a little heavy for my taste. It's sort of a dude place. Also there's only one super sweet option on the menu, and it's french toast loaded and stuffed with a ton of things. If you prefer a savory brunch, you have many options, plus you can order all their salads and sandwiches. I'd go back one more time if you wanted me to go because I still want to try the Johnny Dogs (little sausages wrapped in pancake batter.)

I guess there is one other sweet option. This weekend I had the oatmeal brule, which was pretty marvelous. They took the oatmeal, put the sugar on top, and torched it like a creme brule. It was totally a new technique to me, and I have read a lot of brunch menus!

They have their famous cocktails in the morning too - this old fashioned was made with bacon infused bourbon. No joke. Drew and Adam really liked it! James was a doll at brunch. The restaurant is really loud so any noise he made was easily lost, and he did a terrific job waiting for a group of 9 to get their food. He's at that funny age where he will interact with me, do patty cake, etc, but I'm not really allowed to hold him. I do get to see this sweet smile plenty! Love it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Weekend Instagram.

My android phone, circa August 2010, doesn't have the greatest quality camera. It sort of pains me how the pictures come out, but sometimes it's the best you can do. My camera does not fit in my clutch or in the pocket of my rain coat, so I've got to make due until I upgrade my phone.

And then I might be unstoppable.

Saturday night we went to fundraiser downtown at the AMC Marquee Lounge. It's pretty swanky, there was swing music and a fantastic signature cocktail. Don't be fooled by signature cocktails, my friends. They made sure to put plenty of vodka in there.

New party dress from Ann Taylor got me in the mood. Hello asymmetrical hem! Kinda matches that asymmetrical thing my bangs and hair are doing as well. Abbey & Drew, Kate & Adam, Erica and I enjoyed our time downtown together - Kate had dashed off to get some sushi by the time we took this photo. There wasn't a lot of food at the event, but there were plenty of desserts.

My kind of party.

There were also raffles. I bought two raffle tickets and put them both in a surprising choice - the wedding package. Real talk: I'm clearly not getting married anytime soon. But I really liked my odds and the prizes would have come in handy.

I would have used it easily...
- photographer for a book club photo shoot. Updated head shots for all!
- $1000 to a bridal salon. Perfect for a maid of honor dress for Jennie's wedding and a couple new formal gowns for parties!
- wedding coordinator services. Rachel and I would LOVE someone to stage an RV Designs party.

I didn't win. But how hilarious would that have been!?

Sunday morning, in the shadow of those signature cocktails, we tackled the Trolley Run. It's four miles (mostly) downhill from Waldo to the Plaza.

It rained up until the event started and then off and on as we walked. We also were the very last people to start the race because we were running a little behind. Yes, the truck that drives at the end of the crowd followed us for about 50 yards. And then we lapped a lot of people and got to the finish line before they ran out of food! We totally rocked those four miles in under an hour. I crossed the finish line at 56:21, an average of about 14 minute miles.

Real talk: it would have taken me longer to run it. I'm not kidding.