Beginnings are endings are beginnings.

So the school year officially begins on Monday, which means that my summer vacation has officially ended. Truthfully? I'm not as sad about it as you might think. Part of it has to do with the fact that it is fun to redecorate your classroom every year (after you get over the initial mumbling and grumbling stage, aka, the unpacking and cleaning). Here's what my classroom looks like this year -- pardon the blur, they were taken with my iPhone:

I still want to add a few more things to my classroom before I can consider it done -- namely a small fridge and a Harry Potter poster -- but it can wait until things settle down a bit.

Another reason why I'm not feeling so bad about starting the new school year is that I get to end my summer vacation on a high note -- while I was going quietly crazy at work today, bouncing from meeting to meeting, my boyfriend called to suggest we go to Islands of Adventure tomorrow until Sunday because our annual passes are about to expire. For a nanosecond, I thought, Are you insane? But then I decided, Oh what the heck. I'll just stress myself out if I stay home and wind up spending all weekend creating color-coded seating charts and whatnot. Better to go to Orlando and have butterbeer and ride the Dragon Challenge, especially since I've been on such a Harry Potter kick this summer. I'll probably start the school year more relaxed that way!

The biggest reason why I'm happy to begin the new school year? It's simply because I'm excited to meet my new students. It is both the blessing and the curse of the teacher that we play but a transient role in the lives of our students. When you think about it, we truly spend so little time with them and ultimately have that blink-and-you'll-miss-it chance to make a difference in their lives. I become newly aware of this fact every August. Even though I'm going into my ninth (!!!) year teaching this school year, I still get butterflies in my stomach every time school starts up again. If I'm blessed enough to still be teaching when I'm old and gray, something tells me I will still continue to get those butterflies. I hope they never fly away.


These are a few of my (current) favorite things...

1. poppin.
I first learned about this awesome company thanks to Cupcakes and Cashmere. What is poppin? Only the best office supply site ever. Seriously -- you can even buy office supplies in different colors, everything from your standard black to bright pink. I am actually looking forward to starting the new school year because I bought all new desktop supplies in pink. Okay, maybe the words "looking forward to" are a bit much, but never underestimate the power of cute office supplies. You can color-coordinate your own office here.


2. foursquare.
This app has been one of my recent favorites. At first, I didn't get what all the fuss was about. Log into places so your friends could see where you are? Sounds like co-stalking. Unlock special badges? Yawn. But then I decided to give it a try, and I discovered it's actually pretty addicting. What's best about this app is the fact that you get many specials just for logging into certain places, like free appetizers and other discounts. And yes, darn it, unlocking the badges is pretty cool after all. Download this app to your device here.


3. crystalline.
I know I already blogged about this song (well, technically the video), but I can't stop listening to it. Yes, the album cover for this single is a bit bizarre (see below), but the song is a ton of awesome. Listen to a sample/download it here.


4. e.l.f. cuticle pen.
As I wrote in last week's Beauty Rituals post, e.l.f. is a great company to buy beauty supplies on the cheap, whether you're ordering online or buying it in person. One of my current favorite products of theirs is the cuticle pen. It keeps my normally gnarly cuticles in check, which is awesome, because that means I can push my manicure appointment back by another week (or two). Best of all, it's only one buck -- seriously! Buy it along with more low-priced goodies here.


5. skinny caramel macchiato.
Ever since I began my diet/exercise regime, I've been trying to cut back on my nemesis: sweets. What this means is that I suddenly found myself avoiding Starbucks, somewhere I used to go on an almost daily basis. Yes, I knew that they offered lower calorie and lower fat versions of many of their drinks, but to be honest, I used to scoff at them, thinking they probably tasted like crap. Until I tried their Skinny Caramel Macchiato. It's actually not that different from the original version, which is amazing when you consider the "Skinny" version has 100 less calories. I recommend getting it cold -- it's especially yummy.


6. ebates.
Lately I've been doing all my shopping online -- especially for my back-to-school supplies. It's simply more convenient, plus there are usually good sales and deals for such stores like Old Navy or Sephora. Another reason why I like shopping online is because I have an Ebates account, which gets me cash back on many of my online purchases. No, you don't need to pay -- it's completely free -- and the rebates, or "ebates," really start to add up the more you shop online. For example, I've been a member since 2006 and to date, I've received $271.07 total in cash back. This may not be a huge amount, but to a penny-pinching teacher like me, it's great. You can learn more about Ebates here and get your own Ebates account here.

What are your favorites this month?

Beauty Ritual: Bargain Beauty

While I love splurging on that got-to-have beauty item every now and then, I try to stock up my makeup with as many bargain priced products as I can. Believe it or not, you can actually find some great, low-priced products in the makeup aisle of your local drugstore -- many of them even rival their more expensive counterparts. The following items are tried and true, and best of all, they are all under $10.

bargain beauty

1. Revlon PhotoReady Concealer Makeup  - Good for concealing unsightly blemishes or under eye circles. 

2. Rimmel London Exaggerate Liquid Eyeliner - A recent favorite of mine. This eyeliner is fool-proof and has great staying power.

3. Maybelline Volum' Express One by One Mascara - This mascara gives my skimpy lashes a much needed boost. I love how it both separates and thickens my lashes.

4. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss - This lipgloss has great shine, perfect for wearing alone or layering over your lipstick.

5. CoverGirl Instant Cheekbones Contouring Blush - I'm still learning how to use this contouring blush, but I love how it defines my cheekbones and gives my face a healthy glow.

6. essie nail color - My manicurist turned me on to essie's polishes. I love them all, most especially their collection of pinks and beiges.

7. L'Oreal True Match Foundation - This is a truly great foundation for the price. You can easily find a shade that blends in perfectly and it has even, smooth coverage.

8. L'Oreal True Match Powder - This is a good finishing powder, whether it's applied over your foundation or worn alone.

9. Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick  - I've been a fan of Revlon's lipsticks since my high school days, and I'm still wearing many of their shades today. This recent line from Revlon has some awesome shades.

10. L'Oreal Wear Infinite Single Eye Shadow - I love L'Oreal's eye shadows for their variety of colors. Plus this eye shadow has a great sheen to it that really makes your eyes "pop."

11. e.l.f. Essential Wet Gloss Lash & Brow Clear Mascara - This is a nice alternative to wearing mascara PLUS it brings an extra wand to help keep your brows in place. And for only $1, what's not to love?

What are your favorite bargain beauty items? Let me know in the comments!

Back to School.

It's true that I've been dreading my return to school all summer. I prayed for June and July to be as slow as molasses, but as usual, they flew by like nothing.

And now it is August. And now I have to report back to school in a little over a week to start readying my classroom. *sob*

However -- if there is one thing I like about the whole Back to School business it is this: the ritualistic buying of school supplies. The pencils, the notebooks, the crayons, the erasers, the college-ruled paper... I love it all.


So I guess this means I'm Magical.

I'm magical, witches! ;)
I'm magical! Thank you times a bazillion to the lovely @CaramelPhotos (aka Vanessa) who helped me find the pesky Magical Quill and basically kept me sane in my moment of insanity. I couldn't have done it without her. The username I chose from the selection (which wasn't stellar) is MidnightWillow127, but I'm slowly learning to like it. I can't wait to see what else Pottermore has in store...

Wishlist Wednesday!

What I'm wishing for this Wednesday...

It's all @Cleolinda's fault that I'm craving this cupcake. She tweeted about going to the bakery Gigi's Cupcake today and it turns out the closest one to me is in Tampa. *sob*

This headband is perfect for work OR play. I love it. {via}

I have a slightly unhealthy addiction to messenger bags. I'm working on it, but this beauty makes me want to fall off the wagon. Allllllll the way off. {via}

I have been unable to register for Pottermore, unlike seemingly everyone else. What's a girl gotta do to get in?! (Other than park myself in front of the computer and forgo sleep and any vestige of a social existence.)


Ready, Set, Fall!

I don't know about you, but I am so ready for Fall. Never mind that we don't really have seasons here in South Florida -- well, unless you count our year-round balmy weather as an eternal summer. But October, which just happens to be my birthday month, usually ushers in cooler temps and shorter days. Which means I can bring my beloved cardigans and jackets (and boots!) out of retirement. Plus I just happen to like the clothing styles more in autumn. They have a more structured, elegant look, in my opinion.

Here are some of the goodies I'm wishing on for Fall...