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Okay, so I am a nail polish-aholic. I didn’t used to be, but nail polish is just so awesome nowadays that it’s hard for me to walk by nail-polish without looking at it and there is ALWAYS something that catches my eye. So I’ve seen Julep around for a long time. Julep is a website that curates and delivers monthly beauty boxes that have full size products for just $24.99 a month. Many women spend more than that each month on make-up, nail polish, and skin care products. About the whole curating part I mentioned above… Julep does a monthly box where they pick everything for you OR you can choose from a rotating variety of products ranging from nail polish to nail accessories to blush- everything you need. I ordered my first box and it should arrive shortly. I can’t wait!!!

But let me share with you the better than I could have ever expected gift I got for joining. Take a peek below and squeal along with me.



FREEBIE ALERT!!! I got 12 full size polishes as a gift for signing up to get a Julep Maven box! For a nail polish junkie like me, this is more than I could have expected. I thought when I signed up to get this gift that the nail polished would be mini. When I opened up the gorgeous box they came in, I was blown away! Check out my video below for a review/reveal of the polishes.

Gorgeous, right? Well, as explained in the video, this particular gift isn’t available anymore. I’m sure many more like me wanted in on this offer and signed up. Now, however, there is another pretty good gift available for first time subscribers to Maven box. They have this really cute 8 piece gift set that includes four polishes, lip gloss, eyeliner, blush, and chevron nail decals that you can get when you sign up to receive a box for the first time. Here it is:

8-Piece Star-Spangled Beauty Gift PDP

Pretty cute, right? I thought so too. So if you want to get this free gift (with a $122 value), you would sign up for your first Maven box and use the code FIREWORKS at checkout. Your Maven box is only $24.99! This is a monthly subscription service that you can cancel at any time. You can also skip a month whenever you want if you don’t want to spend the money that month or if you don’t see something you want or need. I suggest you at least sign up for this gift and a month of Julep and then decide if you like it enough to continue. I am waiting for my Maven box to come and I cannot wait!!!

So because I like sharing, I am going to do a giveaway for my readers of some of the polish that I got for my gift! I’m giving away two colors to one reader (a $28 value)!
There are several ways you can get an entry in to this giveaway sponsored by me. Use the rafflecopter widget below for your options. Thanks for being a reader!!

Sorry. This giveaway is over! The winner was announced here.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy for more information.


Photo Albums from Mixbook.com


We all have memories of our children from certain ages that stick out in our mind. We probably have memories from before they were even born that we treasure like picking out baby shower invitations. But what about after they were born? How about these: the time they ate their first ice cream cone and ended up more on them than in them. When they took their first steps. The first time they ate solid food, and so many more! The pictures in this post are from a mixbook that I made. The one above is the first time we went to see Yo Gabba Gabba! live. My little boy was wearing his DJ Lance glasses that they gave at the event and I was dancing more than anyone else. He was too young to get how awesome it was!


This next picture is my little boy after he got his first big boy haircut. He had the longest, curliest hair when he was a baby and it was so hard for me to get it cut off. However, people started mistaking him for a girl because of all his long curls so I knew I had to get it cut.


This last picture is my little boy with his longer hair and his first pair of sun glasses. How do you keep all of your memories fresh in your  mind? Are you one of those people who just have extraordinarily good memories or do you take pictures of everything you want to remember? I’m guessing you probably take pictures like most of us. Have you tried Mixbook? I’ve done reviews of Mixbook products before, but every now and then it’s not a bad idea to share my experiences for new readers.

You can go to Mixbook.com to create stunning photo books with your pictures. I have two mixbooks and I love that they have lasted for years and still look as good as the day that I bought them. I remember that creating my photo book was really easy. There are a lot of themes you can choose from from family to weddings to travel. You can choose a theme and choose your pictures that you want included in your book. Or you can do a blank book, which is what I did.

The prices range depending on the size and cover of the photo book you buy. You can get a book that is softcover, hardcover, or even leather. Both times I got mixbooks, they were hard cover. I keep them standing up on my entertainment center as decoration that people can look at if they want. One idea is to get a huge coffee table book as a nice centerpiece for your coffee table.

Mixbook is not only for photo books. They also have:

Wedding invitations

+ Birth Announcements

+ Canvas prints

+ Invitations

+ Thank you Cards

+ Save the date

+ Wedding thank you cards

+ much more

I really enjoy how easy it is to make the products, how well they last, and how good they look. If you’ve never tried a mixbook before, give it a try. It’s a great way to remember the summer time memories you make with your loved ones.

Have you tried mixbook before? What has your experience been like? Let me know in the comments!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy for more information.


The Secret Life of a Teacher

Teacher secrets- What you want to know but are afraid to ask

Sorry about my absence but, you know, duty calls and everything. It’s a ghost town around here during the school year, I’m afraid. Right now, though, I feel like writing. Ever get that way? Anyway, I thought I’d lay some teacher secrets on you.

Are you a parent? Let me fill you in on some secrets about your children’s teacher. Come a little closer. Closer. Okay, let’s not get weirdly close, you’re about to be in my bubble of space. We know there are some things you want to know about your child’s teacher, but don’t feel comfortable asking. That’s okay. I’m here to hook you up with some insight and hopefully some warm cuddly feelings for the person(people) who spend the most time with your child.

The number one secret you might not know about teachers is that we love teaching- or we WANT to love it. Many of us love what we do. We get to mold young minds and help them reach their potential. We get hugs daily and kids tell us we are the best ever. How often do you get to told that you are the best ever at your job? Not as often as a teacher, I’m guessing. There is nothing more awesome than the feeling of standing in front of a classroom with 20+ eyes looking to you for information. They trust you to do the right thing for them.

There is nothing more satisfying as a teacher than seeing a student learn something that you taught. My absolute favorite thing, though, is when a student connects with something they are learning. I love when you are in the classroom and you share a moment with your class that you know they will remember the rest of their lives. You’ve made a ripple in their life. It doesn’t always happen in the sometimes mundane necessities of a classroom, but there are times when you know you are making an impression.

Another thing that we love is what we teach (usually). Like me, I’m an ELA lover. I love everything reading and grammar. Even spelling isn’t so bad. I’m teaching math this year and OhEmGee it is AWESOME. While we might not know every single thing about the subject we teach, we pretty much know our stuff. So let us love it. And if we make a  little mistake, don’t crucify us over it. Seriously, it can be a lot of pressure to know that you have children watching everything you do looking for mistakes while you are teaching, but it’s much more stress when you have parents who are critical so cut us some slack.

Above I said that we WANT to love our jobs. Honestly, there are some times when we don’t love it. We don’t love it when there is a new state assessment that comes down the pike that we are supposed to push on our precious students that has not been fully validated or that seems sketchy in some other way. It sometimes feels like the ones in charge of making the decisions about what is right for our students have no idea.

No matter what any teacher says, we don’t love grading papers. We know it’s a necessary evil, but it can be pretty awful sometimes even when your students are doing exceptionally well. Do you think it’s fun to grade the same spelling words 20-100 times as you see them on different students’ spelling tests? No freakin’ way.

We don’t always love meetings. We know they are completely necessary, but we don’t love them all the time. We are super, super busy and have a thousand and one things that always need to be done. We meet with parents to help keep them in the loop about what’s going on in the classroom. Remember when you are meeting with your child’s teacher that we want the same things that you want. We want your child to be successful in their current grade. We want them to leave our classroom a better person than they were before they entered it. If your child’s teacher is telling you that your child has some things to work on, then trust us. We see them for a huge block of time each day and each week. We’re not out to get your child/don’t like them/want to blame them for our lack of teaching skills.

We do our best to make sure your child understands every lesson, but it doesn’t always happen right away. When you work with your child one on one at home on their homework, remember we do that same thing with a group of 20+ kids and it’s dang near impossible that every child will “get” every lesson every time. So when your child comes home and doesn’t know how to do a lesson, expect it to happen every once in a while. We do our best to help each child “get” each lesson, but every child will have times when they don’t quite get it. Here’s what happens sometimes: a child “gets” it in the classroom. Then they go home and work on their own and forget. That’s normal! We appreciate your help at home solidifying the skills they are taught in the classroom. When you work with your child, it shows them that what they are learning IS important.

We have off days sometimes. Have you ever had to be in presentation mode for your job? You want to be the best presenter possible. You WANT to be entertaining and for the people watching your presentation to take something from it. Now, imagine that after your presentation, the people you have just presented to have to apply that information right away to show you that they understood what you presented. Imagine doing that EVERY DAY whether you feel like it or not, for we are but human.

We have days when we feel less than stellar but we still teach on those days…unless we have something contagious or the fever is too bad. You know how sometimes you have sinus/allergy problems and you are constantly sneezing or coughing or have a runny nose or need to cough up something gnarly? Try TEACHING on days like that. It’s not easy. What is so sweet, though, is that for the most part when kids see that you are really not feeling well, they take it easy on you.

We know you don’t always read our newsletters. We try to help parents stay as informed as possible. I’ve written newsletters each week for several years, and it never fails that I’ll still get phone calls or notes sent to school about something that I’ve written in the newsletter. We know you’re busy, but if you’ll take 3 minutes to read the newsletter we spend time to write, I promise you will find a lot of answers to questions that you have without having to email/write a note/make a phone call.

Now this part shouldn’t be a secret, but it might be something that we don’t say often enough, just because we are so busy. We appreciate what you do at home with your child. Discipline, support, love- these are all crucial to the development of a child. Taking care of these needs and sending your child to school makes our job much easier.

Last, but not least, we LOVE your child. We don’t always love their behaviors, but we love your child! When your child comes back to us the next school year to give us a hug and tell us about how their day is going and how their teacher is and how their year is and how their classmates are, we are happy to see them! I love when I have kids come back to me from middle school or high school with their younger brothers or sisters on open house night. We might not always remember our kids names right away if it has been a few years and they have had growth spurts or now have facial hair and voice changes, but we usually figure it out. I forget my own child’s name sometimes, though, so forgetting names really means nothing.

Calling all teachers: What are some more secrets can you lay on parents? Let me know in the comments.

Calling all parents: What questions do you have for teachers?


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy for more information.


Gouda Cheese Grits with Pan Seared Scallops

Gouda Cheese Grits and Pan Seared Scallops

Gouda Cheese Grits with Pan Seared Scallops

I absolutely love scallops! They are so delicious when cooked properly. You just put them in the pan and sear them off and they become little buttery-sweet disks of loveliness. Here is a fantastic recipe for a take on shrimp and grits. Replace the classic shrimp with scallops for a delectable dish that will tantalize your taste buds. Man, I just ate these and now I’m making myself hungry again writing about it!

So here’s the thing with this recipe for Gouda cheese grits and scallops. You can use grits or you can use pasta. If you use pasta, you can omit all of the ingredients for the grits. If you want, you can even just do the scallops by themselves and use it as an appetizer. And guess what? You can eat the cheese grits without the scallops! No matter how you do it, this recipe is a winner!

Gouda Cheese Grits with Pan Seared Scallops

Pan-seared scallops with gouda cheese grits- a delicious take on shrimp and grits.



7 oz. shredded smoked Gouda cheese

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup half and half

1 cup quick cook grits

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp. salt

pepper to taste


1 lb. scallops thawed

3 slices bacon chopped

2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp. white cooking wine

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. capers

1/2 shallot chopped

2 cloves garlic chopped

salt and pepper to taste


1.) Make the grits first. Add chicken broth, half and half, and salt to pot and bring to boil. Once the liquid is boiling, whisk in the grits. Turn the temperature of the grits down to medium low and cover. Allow the grits to cook until done (about five minutes or so, but you may want to look at the recommended cooking time on the back of the package of grits). Add shredded cheese a little at a time until all is incorporated in the grits. Sprinkle with pepper. Once the grits are done, you can set them off to the side with the lid on them to keep them warm until the scallops are done.

2.) Season scallops with salt and pepper to taste. Add olive oil and butter to a pan and let the butter melt. Once butter and olive oil are hot, add scallops. Cook 1-2 minutes per side (depending on their size) and then set aside to drain on a paper towel. Add bacon and cook until crispy. Remove bacon and drain grease from pan. Add shallots and garlic, cook one minute. Add lemon juice and white wine and scrape the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan.

3.) Plate up your grits.

4.) Return scallops to the pan. Add capers, 2/3 of the bacon, and scallops. Cook for one minute. Remove scallops and place on top of grits. Add the heavy cream and stir until the sauce comes together (this happens really quickly- maybe 30 seconds). Pour sauce on top of scallops and grits. Garnish with remaining bacon.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think about this recipe of Gouda cheese grits with pan seared scallops.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy for more information.