Category: Academics

Academics: majors and classes at UIC.

My first day of school

Too bad I didn’t get a picture of me on my first day of school.  Actually, my first day with the kids is today.  Last week consisted of moving, more moving, moving things again, organizing, and meetings.

We went to our classroom to find out it was not finished getting constructed.  They took out the sink (which we needed-you can’t have a preschool room without a sink), and hadn’t finished putting in the countertops on, windowsills, projector, or white board.  My teacher was moving from a room twice the size of this one.  So, there were over 160 boxes to move and unpack.  Oy! Then, the furniture.  Which was big, and totally unnecessary for preschoolers.  Yes, lots of stuff to complain about the first day.  I just helped as much as I could.  Apparently, there are a bunch of student teachers there, and I was the only one helping the move in.  I left exhausted, hurting just about everywhere.  My mentor said, “If you can handle this, everything else will be a cake walk.” I didn’t cry at all so I guess I have that going for me. :)

This is the room with about 1/4 of the boxes moved in: This was it as we left the first day (most boxes are unpacked and the centers were taking shape:

We have four kids in the morning and four in the afternoon.  I’m excited to get to the point where everything is done! Right now I just feel a little overwhelmed.  I know once I get in the swing of things and can actually put all of my training into practice, it’ll all get easier.

Update on the 17 day diet:

I finished the first cycle and will be moving on to the second cycle once I get settled in with the student teaching and the stress wears off.  There are so many recipes I’d like to share but I will share one of my favorites now.  Breakfast was always a bit tough because I couldn’t have cereal, toast, or a bagel.  I could have eggs but it did get a bit old.  So, I found a recipe for PANCAKES. That’s right! Pancakes.  How can you have pancakes if you can’t have flour? They are flourless pancakes made with fat free cream cheese.

Cream Cheese Pancakes

Yield: Four 6-inch pancakes

Serving Size: 1 pancake


  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 packet stevia (or any) sweetener
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


  • Put all ingredients in a blender or magic bullet. Blend until smooth. Let rest for 2 minutes so the bubbles can settle. Pour 1/4 of the batter into a hot pan greased with butter or pam spray. Cook for 2 minutes until golden, flip and cook 1 minute on the other side. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Serve with sugar free syrup (or any syrup of your choice), fresh berries and I had it with a glass of pro-biotic Kefir.

Approx nutrition info per batch: 344 calories, 29g fat, 2.5g net carbs, 17g protein

Stay Hungry!! :)

Adventures in babysitting: The finale

Bye bye summer.  Isn’t that the most depressing phrase ever uttered? Today is my first day of student teaching…without the actual teaching part.  The children don’t come to school until next week.  This week we are basically starting from the ground up.  Our classroom has walls…and that’s about it.  The school that my teacher was at previously was where I thought we would be.  In the spring, we both found out her room would be moved to another school.  Apparently, they are redoing the big art room to accommodate our special ed preschool room.  It isn’t done yet. It might be nice to have a blank slate to start a brand new classroom.  We’re just hoping we can pull off a miracle before the children do show up.

School starting also means no more nannying, at least full time.  I was able to arrange a couple days babysitting after school.  Even though these boys drive me UTTERLY INSANE, I think I’d miss them if last week was the last time I’d ever see them. For our last long day together, I had the whole day planned.  I took them to Oz Park.  It’s a park in Lincoln park that my parents used to take me when I was little.  It has the most amazing playground made all of wood.  It’s huge and it was just as amazing as I remembered it being.  There are little nooks and crannies that kids can crawl through, and deemed to be a bit small for me this visit.  The boys had a great time and really enjoyed exploring a park they had never been to before.  I also put together my last scavenger hunt.  I put clues all over the house and candy at the very end.  They (the mom and dad) gave me a bottle of champagne to celebrate my new adventure and the boys all made me cards. My favorite was “Thanks for all the babysitting, Lauren.”  The day was great and it was such a nice way to end a hectic summer.

It is also the end of my 17 day diet: cycle 1.  I lost a little over 5 lbs (which was less than I set my goal for).  But I do feel better and that’s all that matters.  I am starting cycle 2 today.  Should be a bit easier because the list of what is allowed gets much longer.  Still no junk food.  No soda.  And I’ll only have wine like ONCE (or twice) a week.  Veggies. Fruits. Proteins.  I think my favorite part will be being able to eat shellfish again.  MMMmmm shrimp!! And I’m to increase my workout regimen from….pretty much nothing to riding my bike everyday.

This week begins a brand new chapter for me and I couldn’t be more excited.  Wish me luck!!

It’s crunch time

I don’t mean stomach crunches.  It’s time I buckle down my budget.  My piggy bank is on a diet, too.  I have worked tirelessly this summer to save up for a very (and I mean VERY) low income fall.  Student teaching is a full time UNPAID job.  The bright side is I saved some money (with the exception of some concerts-a girl has to have a little summer fun!).  But these next two weeks are the last of a nice paycheck.  Sigh.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I can be a bit of a worry wart.  I plan almost everything, and it’s very hard for me to let go and “see what comes my way.”  With the money I’ve saved and the extra from my student loans, I should be ok with the bills I have to pay for 15 weeks. It’s just the spending money I won’t have much of. SIGH.

Oh! And that whole not having a job thing.  Talk about stress.  Once student teaching is over, I am going to look for jobs like it’s my job.  It WILL be my job.  And hopefully, HOPEFULLY I stumble upon something that is available mid-year.  If not, I can be a substitute teacher for the meantime.  Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!!

17 Day Diet Update: As I write this, I am 10 days into the 17 day diet.  I have lost more than 5 lbs.  (I need to get a digital scale.  My analog scale doesn’t really work that well).  Wednesday, August 13th will be my last day.  And my boyfriend and I decided our first dinner out will be to…drumroll please…..Pizzeria Due!  I can’t wait to have a BIG, SLICE OF CHICAGO DEEP DISH PIZZA.

Honestly though, the biggest differences on this diet is how much better I feel.  My stomach feels smaller, I eat less, I have more energy (without drinking coffee), drinking tons of water a day is super easy, I sleep better, and I can see my body changing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going back on what I said about body image in a previous blog.  I am doing this for my body, to get my organs working clean without a lot of toxins, getting my metabolism up, decreasing the amount I need to eat to feel full, and lastly to train myself on moderation.  That’s how you can eat what you want and still feel and look good.  Then after I get my pizza fix, I’ll continue on to the next cycle of the diet which allows more options of food but still in good moderation.

Like last week, I’ll share a recipe I’ve used a couple times that can be found in the 17 Day Diet book.

Sesame Fish:

Ingredients: 1 lb of salmon

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

2 Tablespoons lite soy sauce

1 Teaspoon chopped garlic

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Spray pan with vegetable oil spray to prevent fish from sticking.  Place fish in pan cook half-way.  Whisk olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic until well blended.  Pour over fish.  Finish cooking fish.  (Here I added mushrooms and onions and sauteed).  Once cooked, pour sesame seeds over the fish.  Voila! Yummy! Pair it with a side of vegetables. Enjoy!

The rhythm of life, still beating on

♪♫♪ Alors tu vois, comme tout se mêle / Et du cœur à tes lèvres, je deviens ton casse-tête…

I can’t believe it’s August. Seriously, where did my summer go? Oh that’s right, to research work, psych class, and, of course, organic chemistry lab. But I’m so relieved that this class will be over and done with in a matter of days…just need to get through this last final exam this week. By the time this post is up, unbelievably, I’ll even be done with it all. For the first time, I have a professor who does the “drop-any-exam” policy, meaning that I could drop the psychology final for my class because I was going in with a good grade already from the other three exams. Thank goodness, because I’ve had my hands full with so many other things! I turned in my final paper a couple days ago and I think it turned out nicely (how multitasking with laptops in class affects academic performance…it’s pretty much what you expect haha. Inverse relationship: more multitasking = lower grades. I guess I should take my own advice in the paper and more strictly stay off my laptop during lecture now…oops).

The final lab practical actually went well last week! We had to synthesize luminol for chemiluminescence, which is what forensics uses at crime scenes to detect bloodstains. It actually wasn’t too bad of a procedure, thankfully not involving distillation of any kind, and the hardest part was probably just heating things at over 200 degrees Celsius. I was relieved that one of my friends warned me not to burn my product, though, because I saw some people’s product turning black. I kept an eye on mine to make sure it stayed a yellowish color, and all went well (other than a few accidental brushes with the burning hot heating mantle). I was also careful to avoid my thermometer bursting, thank goodness, which is what happened to a neighboring student and scared me breathless because the glass flew everywhere. No one was hurt other than the thermometer thankfully, and everyone was a hundred times more watchful of their own thermometers after that. Note to any orgo lab students in the fall: keep your thermometer cooling down with your solution until at least 100 degree Celsius! The sudden temperature change from over 200 to room temp when you pull it out will make it explode, and this will terrify everyone around you and you will shamefully have to get the dustpan from the stock room and a new thermometer. While I didn’t have a very good percent yield, but the chemiluminescence portion went quite well. It felt like the longest seconds of my life, watching my professor watch her iPhone stopwatch to see how long my luminol would last. But that sucker managed to glow a brilliant bright blue for 20+ seconds, to my absolute relief.

In a matter of days I’ll be starting Campus Housing training and then right after that it’ll be time to shuffle into classes every day again. I don’t anticipate training to be difficult though, since I’ve been through it all once before last year, and I doubt very much protocol has changed. Honestly, I’ll probably be yawning through most of the lectures on community, duty, how to tutor, and so on, but it’s going to be so incredibly exciting meeting the whole new staff. Courtyard always has the largest staff by far (nearly 30 people), and with only a small fraction being returner staff (including fellow UIC blogger Holly, who is the Senior Resident Assistant!), there will be many many new faces to see and people to meet. I’m actually more nervous about getting ready for my residents, because I’ll have roughly 50 or more this year! That’s kind of a jump up for me from last year, when I was lucky with only about 30 residents. I’m worried that it’ll be hard to get to know everyone as personally, so I’ll have to step up my game in the first couple of weeks and try to put names to faces as soon as possible. And of course, I’m looking forward to meeting my co, the RA to my PM. I’m already thinking about door decs, bulletin boards, and floor decorations and what I can possibly make before the year is started. I’m not exactly the most artsy person when it comes to decorations and crafts, and it’s always been a struggle for me to be really creative with them…hopefully they come out somewhat appealing to the eye.

This is kind of what I was worried about when I started the summer – that I would feel burnt out at the end of classes and then jumping straight to training and then classes. But there’s no time for that, because who’s got time to be tired? I’m planning on taking this one free weekend (well, training starts Sunday, so really a little less than two days) to pull myself together and rally. I’ve got a long list of things to do that I’ve been putting off in lieu of more important things (school and work of course) and it’s time to catch up – namely little things for myself, like updating my music/running playlist at last because it’s sorely overdue, finish packing up stuff to move over to East campus, printing out some sheet music and chords to have ready to mess around with when I have time, and practicing that darn Bm chord on the guitar (the “real” way, not the “kiddie” way I’ve been playing it haha).

It’s not much, but these are little things that are keeping me sane lately. And I do want to cram as much reading of Neuroscience and Physics in as possible before the school year starts because I am so anxious about the heavy course load I’m taking this semester. I’m trying to scrape together a mental list of motivation to keep me going because, to be honest, I would love a vacation right about now!

Et malgré ça , il m’aime encore et moi je t’aime un peu plus fort / Mais il m’aime encore, et moi je t’aime un peu plus fort ♪♫♪

(Comme des enfants - Coeur de Pirate)

17 days

So, I’m on a new diet.  It’s called the “17 days of misery.”  JUST KIDDING. It’s called the “17 day diet.”  My boyfriend’s mom did it a couple years ago and she lost 10 lbs in two weeks.  Since I’ve been working so much, I haven’t had a lot of time to workout and I would like to lose 10 lbs before school starts. I’ve done cleanses before that helped me lose a good amount of weight, but also left me lifeless and pale. This seemed perfect because it was created by a doctor based on how the human body works. 

The 17 day diet consists of 4 cycles of 17 days, Accelerate, Activate, Achieve, and Arrive.

Accelerate- the rapid weight loss portion which helps flush sugar and fat storage from your system.

Activate-the metabolic restart portion, with alternating low and high calorie days to help shed body fat.

Achieve-a phase that involves learning to control portions and introducing new fitness routines.

Arrive-a combination of the first three cycles to keep good habits up for good.  On weekends, enjoy your favorite foods!!

Being in the first week of the Accelerate cycle, I immediately started noticing differences in my body, and not just in weight.  My stomach is calm, never upset.  I’ve been sleeping better, my complexion is clearer, and I lost 3 lbs in the first 3 days!


Answer (Accelerate): Chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, certain veggies (cleansing veggies), fruit (before 2 pm), and probiotics.  They also suggest you drink a glass of green tea with every meal, 8 glasses or more of water, and warm water with lemon right when you wake up in the morning.

The first day, I’ll admit, I.was.hungry.  But as I progressed and started making goals for myself, I felt better.  I think part of it was mental.  I started writing down everything I ate, which also motivated me not to cheat. Who wants to admit they cheated the first week of a diet? Not me.

Here is a sample of what one of my dinners consisted of: Cauliflower Pizza

I know, it sounds weird.  I thought it was weird at first, too.  But I miss pizza so much, anything that calls itself a pizza, is worth a try.

You need: one head of cauliflower, fat-free mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, one egg, pizza seasonings, and any veggie toppings you’d like.

Put little pieces of cauliflower in a food processor (It also says if you don’t have a food processor, you can use a cheese grater) until it has a rice like consistency/size.

Once you’ve done that, beat one egg and put it in your rice-like cauliflower.  Add 1 cup fat-free mozzarella cheese.  Mix until it becomes (somewhat) like dough.

On parchment paper, either on a pan or pizza stone, put the mixture and spread it into a circle about 1/8 inch deep. Smash down. Add pizza seasoning.

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Bake the crust for 20 min or until golden brown.

Take out, put on your favorite toppings (I used tomato, mushroom, basil, and garlic).

Put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes and VOILA! Pizza.

It was not bad at all.  I am actually not a huge fan of cauliflower but I was impressed at how flavorful it turned out.

I’ve been trying a new dinner every night to change it up a bit.

So, I am pretty happy with my results so far. I’ll tell ya my biggest challenge is not having dessert or wine.  But i’ve done ok.  Wish me luck! Stay tuned for an update next week!

Where did my summer go?

I have less than a month of my summer left.  What the heck happened?  The polar vortex is back.  Seriously?  I’ve worked my butt off for two months.  Where is the money to show for it?  Oy.

The Competitive Foot closed.  It was a very, VERY exhausting week not only for the store’s emotional closure, but also because I was working about 60 hours with no day off and I was physically exhausted.  I had some long, LONG days.  I celebrated with co-workers for the success we shared and the good times we had together.

On August 18, I officially unofficially start student teaching.  I have to be at school and go to meetings and whatnot, but the kids don’t come until the 25th.  THEN I officially officially start student teaching.  I’m very excited and super nervous.  The good thing is that my mentor teacher and I are both new to the school so it will be a learning experience for both of us.

Three weeks of summer left.  Where does the time go?

Last weekend, my cousin, my aunt, her friend, and I went to see Blake Shelton at Wrigley field.  Even though I am a SOX Fan….Let me repeat….SOX Fan, it was very cool.  We had rooftop seats and I had never been on a rooftop before.  I think they purposely put the stage where we couldn’t see it, but we heard it and it was still awesome.  The weather was perfect, too.

It wasn’t long before I noticed some people that I knew down below on the last section of the bleachers.  It looked very VIP and I saw a familiar face.  I squinted down and stared realizing, “OMG that’s Jonathon Toews!!!”  Word traveled from rooftop to rooftop all on my discovery.  It ended up being the entire team.  Bryan Bickell waved to me.  I saw all the new guys as well.  It ended up being an extra show to watch. 

We were on Twitter looking to see if they were saying anything about being at Wrigley, and sure enough…the word was getting out and they started posting pictures and statuses.

It was very cool to see them out having a good time after working so hard during the season.  Don’t have too much fun boys! We have a cup to win this year!!

As for the next month, I’ll be working, seeing Jake Owen at the Illinois State Fair (yeah…I didn’t know we had a state fair either), planning a weekend getaway with my boyfriend to Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, MI, seeing Luke Bryan at Soldier Field, the Chicago Jazz Fest, and then mid-September going back to Wrigley to see Zack Brown Band.  A lot of country music.  This is actually the FIRST year I won’t be going to Lollapalooza. Sigh. There’s always next year.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy the rest of the summer because you can’t get a better summer than a summer in Chicago! <3

Medieval Times

My boyfriend and I are really bad at surprises. One of us usually figures it out or decides to buy whatever it is, unknowingly, when the other already purchased it as a gift.  It’s an ongoing joke.  So, I was going to try my hardest to keep the secret that I bought tickets to Medieval Times.  Every time we happen to pass by, he mentioned that he’d like to go and hadn’t been since his golden birthday when he was 8 years old.  The last time I was there was when I was in 4th grade for a field trip.  I remember thinking, “we have to eat with our HANDS and drink the soup from the BOWL?” All the girls were grossed out.  And I also remember hoping that I got a rose from our knight. I guess things don’t change over an 18 year period. Anyways, I purchased the “celebration package” about a month ago which included VIP seating, a photo, an announcement during the tournament (A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LORD KYLE!! —said in an English accent), and cake. What else do you need? He was a bit concerned I was going to make him dress up for the photo.  As much as I would have liked to ;) I couldn’t do that to him.

To keep my secret, I only told a few people and I told him I was taking him to Shaw’s Crab House in Schaumburg for lunch.  We had been there once before and they were within minutes of each other so I thought it was a good alibi.  I freaked out a little bit when he offered to put the address in his phone for GPS.  I snapped, “JUST LET ME PUT IT IN MY PHONE, OKAY KYLE? GEEZ!”  I thought for sure he would put two and two together.  Luckily for me, he was too busy waiting for Carmello Anthony’s big announcement (and a bit annoyed with me for my crazy coming out) to look up from his phone.

When we pulled in the parking lot, he looked up from his phone completely confused.  I said, “So, by the way, we’re not going to Shaws, WE’RE GOING TO MEDIEVAL TIMES!”  He said, “Wait, what? What’s going on?”  “Umm hello!! We’re going to THE CASTLE…”  He was surprised and I was proud I was able to keep it a surprise.

We were in the red section with the red knight and NO :( I didn’t get a rose this time EITHER!  The food was great, and the show was even better.  We had a great time!

Before the show, you can sign up to have someone knighted.  Since Kyle expressed to me SINCERELY that he DID NOT want to be knighted and embarrassed, we watched from afar.  It was so cute seeing all of the little kids (and more adults than I expected) kneel before the king.

                                                       The red knight won!!

We had such a good time.  I would definitely go again and I’m glad he enjoyed his birthday surprise.


Support for our farmers

The agriculture industry.  It’s a tough one.  Especially if you’re a farmer and most especially if you’re a farmer who wants to grow organically without chemicals and agents.  In this day and age, almost everything we eat is loaded with chemicals and processed so much, it shouldn’t even be edible.  Ever wonder why workers who are spraying pesticides on fruits and vegetables have to wear masks?  It’s because what they are spraying is so toxic, they can get really ill if they breathe it in.  Except….we’re eating that food that’s being sprayed and there is an enormous company trying to force farmers to do it.

Another thing that scares me is the way animals are treated on “farms.”  Many huge companies that you may get your meat from have “farm fresh” stamped on their product.  The problem with that is most people don’t know that “farm fresh” means literally nothing.  Many of the cows, chickens, pigs, and even fish are cramped together in unlivable environments and are pumped with steroids to make them bigger and given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick from standing in their own filth.  Those things they are given, obviously are still in them when we eat them. Not to mention they are fed things that shouldn’t be in their diet, like corn and meat from other animals rather than grass.

I chose to write this week about supporting farmer’s markets.  There are many small farmers that are trying to make their products as natural and organic as possible but are being sued, frightened and bullied into following policies of bigwigs that don’t want them to succeed.  For more information about this, I encourage you to watch two documentaries: Food, Inc. and Farmageddon.

After watching those two documentaries, I have been interested in going to local farmer’s markets and giving them my business.  I went to one last week in Elmhurst and loved it.  I bought basil, mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinagrette, tomatoes and bread and I made myself the most AMAZING sandwich.  It was all so fresh and I felt good supporting these small farmers who care about the product they produce.

Here is a list of local Chicago farmer’s markets (or go to Illinois farmers markets for suburbs)

Division Street

May 10-October 25, 2014

Division & Dearborn

On Division between State & Clark

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Lincoln Park

May 10-October 25, 2014

Armitage & Orchard

Lincoln Park High School Parking Lot

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm


May 11-October 26, 2014

95th & Longwood

Every Sunday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Lincoln Square 

June 3-October 29, 2014

Lincoln/Leland/Western (City Parking Lot adjacent to Brown Line Station)

Every Tuesday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Hyde Park 

June 5-October 30, 2014

53rd Street & Hyde Park Blvd. (Harold Washington Park)

Every Thursday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Fulton Market Pop-Up (New)

June 10, 2014

Fulton St. (btwn. Peoria & Green)

4-8 pm


June 14-October 25, 2014

Belle Plaine/Damen/Lincoln

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Bridgeport Art Center

June 21-October 4, 2014

1200 W. 35th St.

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Printers Row 

June 21-October 25, 2014

Dearborn & Polk (Printers Row Park)

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Southport Market 

June 21-October 25, 2014

Blaine School, 1420 W. Grace

Every Saturday

8 am-2 pm

Garfield Park Conservatory

June 22-October 26, 2014

300 N. Central Park Ave.

Every Sunday

11 am-4 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

South Shore-Rainbow Beach Park

June 22-August 24, 2014

79th St. & South Shore Dr.

Every Sunday

12 Noon-5 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Columbus Park

June 24-October 28, 2014

Harrison & Central

Every Tuesday

2-7 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

La Follette Park

June 25-October 29, 2014

1333 N. Laramie

Every Wednesday

2-7 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Austin Town Hall

June 26-October 30, 2014

Lake & Central

Every Thursday

2-7 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Englewood/Anchor House (New)

June 28-October 25, 2014

76th & Racine

Every Saturday

8 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

West Humboldt Park

June 28-October 25, 2014

3601 W. Chicago (NHS Parking lot)

Every Saturday

10 am-2 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Union Park Community Market (New)

July 8-September 9, 2014

Ogden & Washington

Every Tuesday

4-8 pm


July 9-October 29, 2014

111th & Cottage Grove (In Arcade Park)

Every Wednesday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Devon Community Night Market (New)

July 9-September 10, 2014

2720 W. Devon St. (Republic Bank Parking Lot)

Every Wednesday

4-8 pm

Ford City Mall (New)

July 9-October 29, 2014

7601 S. Cicero Ave.

Every Wednesday

8 am – 1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Argyle Night Market

July 10-September 4, 2014

Argyle & Sheridan Rd.

Every Thursday

5-9 pm

July 4th crafts

During the summer, the older boys I nanny usually take part in several camps.  Baseball camp, Lego camp, Golf camp.  Whatever it is, it makes things a bit easier on me.  When they hang around the house with nothing to do, one or more of these things can happen: 1) they have friends over (which usually I don’t mind but sometimes I can get overwhelmed with 6 boys running around the house); 2) one of them will go to a friend’s house and relieve me and the other brother of constant fighting; 3) mass chaos of children running around the house in circles, throwing pillows at each other, while they faintly hear my voice yelling to “be careful!!” or “settle down,” neither of which are fully heard; OR 4) they will actually behave and we can do fun things together (which almost never happens).  So, they have stuff to do and places to go.  Woohoo!

However, last week their camps only ran for 2 1/2 hours in the morning.  So, I knew I had to come up with SOMETHING to do.  PINTEREST TO THE RESCUE!  I found this cute idea of making T-shirts with their handprints as part of the American flag.  Done and done.

I went to Micheal’s crafts and knew I could find some inexpensive T-shirts. After finding the right sizes for the boys and me, I searched for fabric paint that would easily come off of their skin since they had to smear their hand in blue paint.  I came across this brand called Tulip.  I’m sure there are other brands to use but this seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.  I also bought a small black, fine tip, fabric paint marker so they could put their names and the date on the back.

When I picked them up from camp that day, they were so excited to start the shirts.  Phew! Sometimes when I plan things, they are all about it in the beginning and then change their mind later after I have gone through all of the work of getting the things together.  Although, video games were way at the top of their list of priorities so I ended up doing mine first as an example.

They loved doing it.  There’s something about getting your hands dirty.  We let them sit and dry for a day and then returned to them to finish the back of the shirts with our names and July 4, 2014.

I thought this was a great idea for them to do and a special memento because I may not be their nanny much longer due to me embarking on my student teaching in the fall.

My favorite things

Last year I wrote one week about my favorite things. You know, like Oprah did on her show that you wished you could have gotten tickets for since she always gave her audience what she presented.  Just like that…except without free stuff ;).   We all have our favorite things whether they’re cosmetics, clothing, shoes, places or people.  Without further ado, here is my new list of favorites.

#10 The “Happy” music video. This song actually really does make me happy.  And the more I learned about Pharell, the more I started liking him.  The song and video unleashed an enormous trend of groups of people making their own video of people dancing.  Did you know there is a Youtube video of the song that plays over and over for 24 hours?  24 hours of Happy.  Every hour is a different person dancing.  But more than just a great song and video, it has a great message.  Sometimes, I think we tend to focus on the negative things going on in our lives instead of being happy about the positive things.  Guilty! Here’s to being happy about the good things in life and not letting the bad things take over.

#9 Women’s Brooks Adrenaline.  Over the many years of being in the running industry, I have tried many different running shoes.  I used to wear the Asics Kayano, which I still love but I couldn’t get them.  Not to mention they are about $150 now.  So, I tried the Brooks Adrenaline and wow…I couldn’t believe I have been selling this shoe for so long and never really gave it a try myself.  It’s supportive, lightweight, and cushioned.  It’s a great stability shoe that has been one of the top sellers in Runner’s World magazine for years. The price point is better at about $120, and just like the Asics Kayano, I feel like I’m running on air.  I always say “Running is hard. It can be uncomfortable.  So, invest in the products that make you comfortable, (and for the sake of tying things in here), invest in the products that make you happy. :)

#8 Riley’s Gathering Place in Elmhurst.  I have been a regular at Riley’s for a couple years.  It’s owned by the Riley brothers and definitely is a great neighborhood bar.  Many of the patrons are, in fact, neighbors and friends.  Whenever you go, they always make you feel part of the neighborhood.  Wednesdays are Trivia nights, Fridays they have a Fish Fry, and Saturday is, of course my favorite, karaoke.  The always make you feel comfortable and cheer you on for singing your heart out.  Many of the waitresses are now good friends. No wonder I keep having my birthday party there.

#7 No7 Quick Thinking Wipes.  I came across the No7 brand while browsing the Target cosmetics department.  The target cosmetics department is kind of like a black hole.  Once you get in, you cannot get out without a cart full of nail polish, makeup, and hair products that you don’t need.  In this case, however, I was looking to refill my usual makeup remover wipes.  I like using them before I wash my face because sometimes, face wash doesn’t get all the makeup off.  And there is nothing worse to me than going to bed with an unwashed face.  I took a gander at the No7 brand and decided to give it a try.  The No7 Quick Thinking wipes are a little more expensive compared to something like the Pond’s makeup remover wipes, but I do like them better.  They have an entire line of skin care products that I would love to try once I get rich.  But for now, I’ll stick to the Quick Thinking Wipes.

#6 Gogroove Bluetooth system.  I have a 2006 Honda Accord.  Great car, except for the fact that there is no Auxiliary port OR (heaven forbid) a tape deck.  There was no way I could play music from my phone or Ipod, until now.  I have to give my boyfriend the credit for this one because he was the one who found it.  It plugs into the lighter and you set it on a station that is clear, as you would with any bluetooth system, and it comes out so clear with no or very little static.  It also has a feature that allows you to switch from the music to answering a phone call without touching your phone.  You simply press the phone button and the microphone turns on and its a great hands-free way to talk on the phone while your driving.  I love it.

#5 Express (Minus the leather) Jacket.  I absolutely love this jacket.  I had been wanting this jacket for so long but it costs a pretty penny, like many of the things at Express.  Every single time I went there, I would try it on and try…JUST TRY to justify paying for it.  I always left without it.  But if you have the chance to take advantage of their sales, you can usually get away with some cute stuff without giving an arm and a leg in return.  This jacket is cute and goes with pretty much anything.  The pockets have zippers as do the sleeves.  My boyfriend got it for me for my birthday (because he is AMAZING!) and I get compliments every time I wear it.

#4 365 Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil. The first time I heard about coconut oil was last summer when my brother’s girlfriend suggested I try it as a tanning oil.  She used it for tanning and said it did wonders.  So, this year I went to Whole Foods and got some of my own.  There is actually an entire list of things you can do with coconut oil.  I use it for moisturizer, tanning oil, and it can be used for bug repellant, too! I’ve been using it for a couple weeks and can tell the different in my skin.  #3 Hunter Boots. A couple months ago, I was on the hunt for rain boots.  I tried a bunch on at DSW and Target and could not find a pair that looked good, felt good and wasn’t insanely expensive.  Well, I gave up the search and kind of talked myself out of looking due to it not really being in my budget.  I have seen people wearing them and every single time would think “Hunter boots!! I want some!!!!”  Well, I ended up getting a pair for my birthday (once again from my amazing boyfriend).  I tried them on….and  They were comfortable AND super cute!  They can be used as winter boots too because they also make boot liners!  I am indeed a lucky girl.  I can’t wait to wear them in the rain.

#2 Sam Smith. Sam Smith is a guy who just came into the music scene recently.  The first song he came out with was “Stay with me,” and I immediately loved it.  I have to admit, I don’t know much about him but his voice is just absolutely amazing.  I’m always interested in artists who have a different sound.  And he definitely has a uniqueness to him.  I know when I really like something, it gets it’s own Pandora station on my phone.  The other day, I saw a video of him doing a cover of Whitney Houston’s “How do I know.”  It blew me away. I would definitely recommend checking him out.

#1 David Sedaris. After finishing all the Gillian Flynn novels in a week, I needed a new book or series to get tied into.  A co-worker suggested “Me talk pretty one day.” As she was telling me one of the stories in the book, she could not contain her laughter just thinking back to how funny it was.  I decided to go to my neighborhood book store, The Book Table, and get it.  I ended up getting two.  “Me talk pretty one day” is so funny.  I have not laughed out loud at a book since I read “Good In Bed” by Jennifer Weiner (which I would also recommend reading).  The way he humorously describes his life makes it easy to relate to with everything from your life, love and family…..and all the awkwardness that comes with them.  I haven’t finished it yet, but once I do I will read the second book I bought called “When you are engulfed in flames.”


So, there you have it…these are my favorite things. <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3

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