Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Favorite Bags Forever and Ever!

31 Bags! Here is my favorite consultant! I did NOT get paid to write this post. All my own opinions.

I just found out about them, okay I found them last catalog. I have become obsessed. I love the colors, functionality, personalizations, and not to mention the PRICE! They have numerous products very similar to Vera Bradley items, which I love that store as well.

Here is my favorite print in the Spring Catalog:
I love the black, reds, and pinks in this print. I WANT THIS OFFICE!

My newest purchase that I LOVE: Fold It Up Organizer
It holds your IPad!!!! And has a pad of paper. It is genius! $30
I am so happy with this purchase, makes work prettier and functional. 

I have so many of the products:
- Roller Bag - Big Dot - so great for weekend get aways, light before you put the stuff in it.

- Casual Cargo Purse in Brown - love the pockets on the outside - I keep my work and personal cells in there, makes it so easy to find.

- Cindy Tote in Black Tweed with a Pink "M" of course, Use this as my work bag. Looks not only professional, but cute. Holds my binder planner, and manila folders without peaking through.

- Coupon Clutch in Black Dot with a Pink "M" on it, I keep coupons, gift cards, receipts, and have a school section. For me, keeps all of the loose stuff out of my purse.

- Perfect Bottle Thermal in Black Dot, I love using this to go to get togethers or parties and take a bottle of wine. Looks way classier than the brown paper bag they give you.

- Zip Top Tote in Bold Bloom, I went with my consultant friend to the Spring opener and received this bag as part of my admission to the event. I love this bag and use it to carry my electronic devices for work. 

As you can tell I enjoy my purchases. All of the items above are in the current catalog and I am very pleased with the purchases. If you have any questions about my purchases let me know!

Until next time...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Martin Luther King Junior - Remembrance Day

When I think of him, I think of Civil Rights, I had a dream..., the new monument downtown, and have always wondered what DC was like during the time he was alive. 

Civil Rights Timeline

Civil Rights means so many things to so many people. Here is the definition from dictionary.com "The rights belonging to an individual by virtue of citizenship, especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and by subsequent acts of Congress, including civil liberties, due process, equal protection of the laws, and freedom from discrimination."

13th Amendment          14th Amendments   (Encase you have a bad memory)

I can go on and on about all of the people who are touched by civil rights and what MLK Jr. has done for this country. He started it all and had such a way with words. I could listen to his speeches forever. I wish I was that good with words. Could you imagine if he blogged every day? Fabulous.

Who hasn't been discriminated in some way shape or form? I do not pretend to understand the depth of what things were like in this country, I have been lucky to live in DC where I feel people are more understanding of differences and accepting. Is our country perfect - no - but we are on our way to accepting one another. 

I've said a million times, I am blessed to work at a diverse school. Without MLK Jr. I wouldn't enjoy my life as much. Each one of my kids teach me probably more than I teach them. The experience they have had and currently face teach me that we have come so far, and still have a long way to go. Working together, we can all make amazing things happen. Look what one man did! One person can make a difference.

Until next time...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thirty Thursday - Debt Free Update!

I'm debt free in 2014! Part 2:
Missed my previous post? Check out Idea #1 for debt free here.
2. Credit Cards - 

Oh I was the typical college student. Took out credit cards thinking it would start building credit. My father lost his job my last year in college so I put EVERYTHING on credit cards. Groceries, utilities, interview clothing, going out, and of course gasoline!

So when I found myself with my first job, it was time to put on my big girl pants and deal with my issues. I started with my handy dandy excel spreadsheets. My headers were - Credit Card, Balance, Minimum Payment, Interest Rate, Due Date. 

First thing I did was change all of my due dates to coincide with when I get paid. I only get paid ONCE a month which has forced me to be very organized with my money to make it through each month. 

Second thing, I ordered my card by the highest to lowest interest rate. 

Third thing, I started paying them off like this:

- Pay as much as I can on the highest interest rate card
- Minimum on all of the other cards
- I started babysitting on the weekends and used that money to make additional payments on my highest interest rate card
- When I paid the highest off, I moved to the next one and continued my plan.

Why did I do this?
I had already made stupid financial decisions, I should not pay tons of interest rates to perpetuate the problem. Was I perfect at this? No! When I changed jobs when the economy went south, I did have to spend a couple of emergency purchases on my already paid off credit card. Annoying but it was essential at the time. 

How do I handle my credit cards now? Lessons Learned!
- DO NOT CANCEL a credit card once you pay it off! It hurt your credit report. Lots of sources out there say cancel them but if you are afraid of using the card, cut it up instead.

- I found a card that gives me rewards, I only use this card. I get 1-12% CASH back on every purchase so therefore, I make every purchase on this card!
- I pay off my card EVERY SINGLE MONTH!
- In an emergency situation, which has happened once, I couldn't pay off my entire card, I made sure I paid as much as I could, and did some extra work to pay it as soon as I could.

Where do I get my extra work?

- Babysitting & Pet Sitting - www.care.com    www.sittercity.com
- Tutoring - www.craigslist.org
- These are things that I am able to do around my schedule and that I enjoy doing. It isn't for everyone. I tend to babysit on Friday and Saturday nights which takes time away from social. I have tried very hard to not do this every weekend. The pet sitting has been super fun. I have met some fabulous furry friends along the way.

What have you learned along the way? I love learning new things!

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

*Revenge Review*

Revenge TV Show Review

So as you know, I am a TV Junkie. I have tried to move from the trashy reality stuff to more "real shows". 

A coworker told me to check out Revenge that I would enjoy it. So I got on my netflix and watched the pilot episode. I was immediately hooked from episode 1.  Each character has a past which is revealed as and the plan of the main character "Emily Thorne" is revealed as you learn each past.

As vindictive and out there lots of Emily Thorne's plans are, you can't help but like her and find no matter what she does, you relate and sympathize with her every calculated move. 

I won't even tell a lie, I watched all three seasons in 2 weekends, it is that good of a show. I'm addicted :) Right now they are finishing out season three and I am very interested where it goes. I try not to spoil things but once you start you have no idea where this is going to go!

Let me know what you think!

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Education Update 2014!!!

My school has been experiencing a ton of changes. A new principal, tons of turn around for staffing and students, and new ideas/producers from the new principal. This has given me an opportunity to totally push forward with a lot of my *new* ideas for my programs. I don't know about you, but change makes me happy. I like trying new things. Fundraising, new website, increasing social media, DINNER for students, and we added 5 new activities - which for my students is a ton of activities. It has been hard to branch them out into trying new things.

Change is not difficult for me, so a new principal was exciting and an opportunity to learn new things and see my school through someone else's eyes. I'm a military brat - you get used to change. Our new principal is big on evaluations. I had to sit this past weekend and put together 25 pieces of evidence to show that I am doing my job in addition to my written evaluation and observations. At first, I was TOTALLY furious. I do so much as it is, I couldn't believe she wanted this many things to prove I do my job. 

I have come to terms that this is a good thing. I have not only evaluations, observations, but physical evidence that I do my job and am working hard each day. I used these pieces of evidence to put together my portfolio so I have it ready if I ever want/need to go job searching.

As you know I love reading about what other people are doing in the education world. I found this fabulous list of Middle School blogs and I read them often. Tons of blogs are out there for Elementary School, not as many for Middle or High. We all need our support and opportunity to see how others do things. Check them out: Middle School Blog Log: LINK

Until next time...

Monday, January 13, 2014

The 25th Project

The 25th Project

I had the honor of meeting the Jay last week and had to share about the wonderful things he is doing for the Northern Virginia area. He saw a need in the Northern Virginia area. Even though it is one of the wealthier communities in the United States, we have a ton of homeless individuals who need support and resources. 

Jay coordinates donations, deliveries, and support for various homeless locations in the area. He is doing fabulous things and helping so many in need. He even gave donations to my school. As I have told you, we have an extremely high poverty population - 75% of our student body. I had to give him a shout out. 

If you feel led to come to an event or offer support in another way, a link to his non-profit organization is at the top of the post.

Check out Upcoming Events! Chili Cook Off & Golf Tournament - click the link for more information.

Until next time...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

L is for the way you Look at me...

Since 2014 is my year, I figured that meant that I need to start caring about my appearance again. That means, I have been getting up a little bit earlier to do my hair, wear a complete outfit - with accessories, wear makeup, and have cute shoes with matching bag. It truly is amazing how much better I feel when I am "put together". 

I follow some fun blogs to help give me some great fashion ideas. My absolute favorite is 

- J's Everyday Fashion  - She posts a new outfit every day and doesn't purchase more than $200 of clothing a month. Been very helpful with my debt management. She shows her inspiration and then her version of the outfit! Super helpful when trying to play around in your own closet.

- Everyday Fashion and Finance

- Style Elixr 

- White Coat Wardrobe

- Joy of Fashion

I use Pinterest a lot for inspiration as well. I always find I have tons of stuff in my closet but sometimes need to see ideas of colors that would go well together. Where do you find your fashion inspiration? God knows I need as much help in this department as I can. Enjoy surfing the web for inspiration.

Until next time...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Happiness Project #1

I ordered my book on Amazon and it hasn't come yet :( So I resorted to the internet for getting myself started. This search brought me to "The Happiness Project - Getting Started" from the author website. 

Step 1: Identify your Aims:
- What makes you feel good? What gives you joy, energy, fun? Working makes me feel good. I get joy in being successful, helping others, and spending time with my family or friends. I get my energy from working out - I love my fitness classes. Fun is doing and trying new things in the area.

- What makes you feel bad? What brings you anger, guilt, boredom, dread? I always feel bad when I have a ton of things I know I need to get done. I get anger when people act stupid. I feel guilty when I cannot help someone with something. I am bored when I am not busy. I dread dealing with certain people at work.

- What makes you feel right? What values do you want your life to reflect? I am a Christian so I want to be an example of the 10 commandments and what Jesus stood for. I try to treat others the way I want to be treated and give back to my community.

- How can you build an atmosphere of growth - where you learn, explore, build, teach, and help? I am in the education field so these are easier to work with. I am constantly taking Professional Development courses. I enjoy challenging myself and learning new things so I am always reading and researching various topics.

Step 2: Make & Track:
- Make resolutions that are concrete and manageable. I am drafting ideas up on this. I looked at the chart example they have as a download. It has 8 resolutions each month that you should track yourself for doing. Here are my ideas for January:
1.  Use my To Do List.
2.  Pick out my outfits the night before.
3.  Give myself 1 hour of cell phone free time in the evening.
4.  Work out 5 times a week.
5.  Pack my lunch.
6.  Send Happy Notes/Thank You to a coworker a day.
7.  Update my schedule daily.
8.  Arrive and Leave work at your scheduled time. Don't work extra.
- Track your resolutions. Gave an example but also made my own with the same concept. I'm very excited to see how I do this month and start reading the book.

Until next time...

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 the year I am debt FREE!

30 before 30 #1: Debt Free Ideas

I am doing a TOP 15 on how I became debt free, I tried to make it less that this but that just wasn't possible. It took a lot of life changes - kind of like going on a diet to do this. BUT, I am the happiness person now that I am debt free and have been able to SAVE!!!
1.  Education
- This is essential to making as much money as you can, but comes with a debt price. I am about to finish my Master's degree, which I paid for myself, with some help of my job. If you are able to have your job reimburse you as I did - this is a fabulous way to further your education and better your salary. I purposefully took longer than I could have to get my Masters as my job will reimburse me $800 a semester for class as long as I receive an A or B for the class. I did have to spend the money on the class up front which was a struggle each month but worth it when I received the reimbursement!

- Undergrad - I won't lie. I am one of the luckiest girls in the world, my parents paid for my entire undergrad except one semester. I paid for this semester myself and did a payment plan through Sallie Mae to pay it off in two years, zero interest. It was a little over $10,000 for the semester. 

- If you have student loans, do your research. I work at a high poverty school which qualifies for tuition reimbursement if you work there for 5 years, you receive $17,000 forgiveness on your loans. They do not advertise this option, I had to research it. A ton of my teacher friends have been doing this. It is totally worth it.

- Many of my teacher friends also defer payments during the summers as we do not get paid anymore during the summer. This is very helpful as most summer paying jobs do not make near your teacher salary.

Share your ideas to handle student loans! I love to hear more options that I don't know about.

Until next time...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fundraising Favorite

So my favorite newest Fundraising venture has been CHIPOTLE! Not only do I love the food, but I love that they offer 50% to the organization if you plan your event on a Monday or Tuesday. 
We have done 2 events this school year, each bringing in over $1,000. With almost $20,000 in budget cuts this year, these events have been essential to keeping us afloat this year. 

What do I do to get people involved and not just from the school?! I tweet about it, send an email message home to families, make morning announcements, send the flyer home with students, and take it to all of my community partners. 

What is your favorite item at Chipotle? I love their burrito bowls, STEAK is of course my favorite. Did you know they have margaritas? I had zero idea. But this definitely made the event more fun!
So need to raise some money? Go check out your local Chipotle and tell me how it was!

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 Organization Binder

Honesty Alert: I'm cheap and always wanting to be organized. I won't spend $50 or more on the organizing/calendars that I see online made by so many of the bloggers that I enjoy. What can I say? Trying to save money is hard work. So this year, I went January 2 to Target and found a 50% off pink agenda. 
So I took the spine off, cut the pages, punched holes, and put them in my favorite PINK binder. I used binder cover sheets for important information that I need for work. I also was able to throw away the stuff that I don't want and add more - my favorite To Do List for starters, Phone List, Website list, Passwords!

I absolutely love the pink stripes. Plus the first page is laminated so they pages won't rip. 
Tabs for each month. With a monthly calendar and weekly pages. I love the weekly pages. You have the week on the left side and notes on the right side.

Specific school stuff I added - Activity Calendar, Medical List, Phone Numbers, Licenses I need for after school, my teaching license information, and important websites/passwords. 

I absolutely love getting organized. I keep an online calendar as well - my work uses outlook. So each evening before I leave, I add what I need for the next day to my binder so I have it. This works perfect for me. I keep it in my work bag and always have a hard and electronic copy! I cannot tell you how many times I have lost items online.
What do you use to keep organized? I love new ideas.

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Once upon a time...

Once Upon a Time Wikipedia
Once Upon a Time IMDb

Once Upon a Time (TV Show) Review: 
The picture above is of the 4 main characters, but lets be real, I have never seen a show develop characters like this one. You have your main characters as well as your random show ups. Currently, this show just finished it's third season. I spent my Winter Break watching all three seasons. It is truly an addictive show. Snow White was a sister wife on the HBO show Big Love and her daughter was a doctor on House - or at least that is where I first saw them.  

The show starts out by bringing you to Storybrooke a small town it seems in the Northeast. It focuses around a town that is entirely story book characters who have a curse and do not remember who they are. You travel through the season while they slowly start to remember because of Emma Swan - who is the child of Snow White and Charming. 

He is pretty Charming looking. Not to mention who doesn't love storybook characters having problems and working through them. I don't know about you, but I grew up with the "happily ever after" movies. This show takes happily ever after to a whole new level. 

Within each episode you are seeing the current situation, plus why the current situation is going on - what happened in the past to influence the characters to be who and how they are. The battle of good and evil - the belief that good will always win.

Emma Swan had a child of her own who has read the stories and knows who Emma really is. He has to convince her to do what is needed so everyone will get there memory back. The other cool concept that I like in this show is that using Magic comes with a price - you don't just get wishes or the ability to alter situations without consequences. Why do I like this concept? Continuing to teach and show watchers that all actions have a reaction. Doing the right thing is not always easy and does have consequences. 

So many shows have tons of sex, curse words, drugs, nudity. This show is very different and keeps you on the edge of your seat, without sex, curse words, drugs or nudity. Cannot wait for season 4 to start.  

If you haven't had an opportunity to check it out, the first two seasons are on Netflix, I watched Season 3 on demand on Verizon Fios. Fabulous way to relax this break.

Until next time...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Macbook Air Product Review

Macbook Website

I received this for Christmas. I have been wanting a Macbook for many years now. I was extremely excited to get it. It is probably the coolest piece of equipment I have ever owned. This is going to take making worksheets, flyers, and websites to a whole new level. It does take some getting used to if like me you have been a PC User. Even though I have an IPad and IPhone, it still takes some time to get used to. Google has been my best friend with this purchase. Anything I am unsure of I google it and easily find answers. 

What makes a Mac a Mac - this is a good overview of what your new purchase is.

The first new thing is:

Magic Mouse Website
Track Pad on the computer
Multi-Track Gestures - click for the list of how to do them

The mouse and pad do not have right click. So for someone who is used to this on a PC, you have to get used to using your fingers differently. Once you get used to it, it is fabulous!

You can connect your Icloud account so everything can be linked to your Phone and IPad. I have already started downloading apps and Microsoft Package. The Microsoft does look different from your PC version, so you do have to play around to familiarize yourself with it, but it does everything your regular version does. 

The ONLY thing I do not like about my Air is that you cannot make your font larger always. In otherwords, you can Zoom on the majority of pages (see the gestures above for how to do this), but it doesn't stay like this. 

Fixable annoyance: The air only has 2 USB ports. I use up to 4 or 5 at a time for work. So I purchased an extension with 5 USB ports

Other accessories I have purchased:
Pink Skin: I hate having to clean my keys all of the time and it added a hint of color to my macbook to make it more personal. I LOVE pink if you haven't figured that out by my blog yet! :)

White Shell: The air is very thin and I am VERY clumsy. This shell will help make the air a little thicker and protect it from getting dirty. I'm very excited about it. I ordered it online and it hasn't come in yet. So I'll show pictures when I finally get it all put together.

As I learn new things, I will post more information! Feel free to share your MAC tips with me, Lord knows I need them :)

Until next time...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Back to work already?!

2014 is going to be my year to learn to balance work and my life. I am horrible at being married to my job. For me to be happy and have a great life - is to actually live a life. So I am getting a divorce from my job this year and hoping to have an AWESOME affair. HAHA! 

Having a 2 week Winter Break this year was extremely refreshing, relaxing, and nice to get away from the school building. Here is a great article about overcoming teacher burnout. It is a very real thing. I have read all of the articles and know that I have to have my hobbies and make sure I do things for myself. A lot of times it is like being a mom - you loose yourself wanting to support and be there for your students. 
My desk thankfully has never looked like this, but at times it feels like it looks like this. Teaching hasn't fully moved to the 21st Century. The amounts of paperwork can be extremely overwhelming. Having a system to organize things is SO IMPORTANT. I have plastic bins near my door that say "File, Office, To Do". This allows me to go through my mail/mailbox quickly and not put the papers on my desk. Once you put them on the desk, it is the end! hahaha! You never know if they will make it to the surface again. 

File - goes in my file cabinet, either myself or my assistant will file them.
Office - items that need to be signed, or delivered to a mailbox
To Do - these are things that I need to complete and do as soon as possible

I'd love to hear about your organization system. Other perspectives are always helpful and can help modify into an even better system.

Here's to work/life balance! We can all do it! 

Until next time...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saturdays: Happiness Project

Mandy's Happiness Project

I made the first step to my happiness, I ordered the Happiness Project on Amazon, yes a like new copy - why not save the money. 

Here is my list of things I would like to change:

- I get annoyed with people very easily. Especially when they do something stupid, yet I am queen of doing stupid things! I know that if someone followed me around and heard all of the stupid things I said, they would be annoyed with me too!

- I am super self critical. I want to stop over-analyzing my own self. That will completely free me!

- I complain especially about work. My poor family and friends. I would love to complain less and have more constructive conversations.

- I can get in a negative rut. Which is very hard to get out of. 

I am hoping that this book will help kick start and keep me on the route to happiness. I'll keep you updated as I go!

Until next time...