read it: death, taxes, and a french manicure

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Review: I greatly enjoy chick lit, and as of late, have become hooked on mysteries, as well. I recently discovered the chick lit-style “Death and Taxes”  series by Diane Kelly, which are mysteries about Dallas resident Tara Holloway, a special agent with the IRS who loves gardening, tax law, the second amendment, and manicures. I got the first book, Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure, on a whim from a Kindle Daily Deal, and I’m super glad I did! It was a little cheesy and romance novel-like at times, but it was also hilarious, kept me guessing, and entertained and inspired me with excellent portrayals of strong women. Kelly doesn’t shy away from giving plenty of detail as to what rules and regulations the white collar crimes are violating, but explains the financial concepts in readable and engaging terms. Tara is an extremely likable character, a heroine you can root for without reservation: intelligent and quirky, responsible yet daring, and tough but girly. Each of the supporting characters are well-developed and entertaining, including Tara’s love interest. I wanted to buy the second novel immediately after finishing the first, but I managed to restrain myself by using the purchase as motivation for achieving some goals. I am definitely looking forward sitting down sometime soon with Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte and some Starbucks of my own!

Have you ever read the Death and Taxes series? Are you interested in it? What books have you read and loved recently?



bucket list: fall 2012

Every time a new season rolls around, I think about all the reasons why that one has to be my favorite. And every year, when fall arrives, I wonder how I even questioned which season takes top honors. I ADORE autumn and embrace every second of it! Pumpkin and apple flavored everything? Cool crisp weather? Sweatshirts and boots and layers galore? Football? Start of the holiday season? Does it get any better?!


So while I wasn’t super successful at my summer 2012 bucket list (only completing numbers 1, 4, 5, 6, and 9), I’m of course making one for fall, too. After all, it’s a bucket list – you write down all you hope to do and achieve, and make the best of it!

  1. Bake something with pumpkin in it and/or make caramel apples.
  2. Clock in miles on a trail (running, biking, walking, whatever) and take in all the different colored leaves.
  3. Attend a football game of the high school where I work.
  4. Have a campfire, make s’mores, and drink hot chocolate.
  5. Make a new decoration each for Halloween and Thanksgiving.
  6. Rake up a big pile of leaves and then jump in it
  7. Try some new healthy casseroles and soups that can be made in a slow cooker.
  8. Watch a scary movie I haven’t seen before.
  9. Go on a hayride and/or go to a festival.
  10. Carve pumpkins.

What are your favorite things about fall? What plans do you have for the 2012 season?


new year’s all year: august reflections and september goals

In January I introduced the 2012 New Year’s All Year Challenge, in which I made broad “endpoint” goals for the year and explained that each month I will make specific small goals that are stepping stones to my endpoint aims. Each month I will also reflect on the previous month’s goals and efforts.

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest


August goals:

  • Health: continue practicing new healthy eating habits and try the remaining six classes at my gym
  • Finances: continue to read more about finances through LearnVest and complete a bootcamp (Take Control or Getting Hitched)
  • Relationships: don’t judge others and carry out little kindnesses
  • Wedding: Find a photographer!!!
  • Career: apply for full-time positions as they get posted, start planning out pre-season plans for 2012-13 swim season, and review educational methods and theories
  • Self-enrichment: practice gratitude

August reflections:

Health: I did well with my health eating habits! I kept food logs, measured my portions, and lost some weight. In fact, since my new nutrition plan began mid-way through July, I’ve lost ten pounds! : ) I did not do well with going to the gym, though, due to travel, illness, and preparing for my new job. However, I know I need to add regular exercise to my new health regimen if I want to (a) lose more weight, (b) do so at a more rapid but healthy rate, and (c) get even healthier and stronger. Finances: I did read more articles about saving and student loan debt, though I did not complete a bootcamp. Relationships: This goal is one I’ve been working on throughout 2012. I think I make some progress every month, but it’s one that I can always do better on, especially when I’m stressed and more prone to obsessing over my worries and becoming oblivious to the issues of others. Wedding: I did tons of research on photographers in the Northeast Ohio area within Dan and I’s price range, and we narrowed it down to our top choices. Career: I got a one-year job! and maniacally prepared for it. Self-enrichment: I did well practicing gratitude. Whenever I felt very stressed or down, I just started listing everything for which I am grateful.

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest


September goals:

  • Health: continue practicing healthy eating habits and workout a couple times a week
  • Finances: budget and make first student loan payment
  • Relationships: show loved ones my love for them
  • Wedding: Book a photographer and update to-do list/plans
  • Career: find a rhythm/routine that works for teaching full-time and stick to it; finish preseason plans for 2012-13 swim season
  • Self-enrichment: learn more about stress and anxiety and coping techniques


my life: hello again and some great news!

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest


Hello everyone! Long time, no see, huh? Sorry about that. It’s not because I’m still sick like in my last post! No, luckily, the absence has been due to something truly wonderful that occurred around the same time – A JOB : )  I have accepted a position as a full-year, long-term substitute for a teacher on a year-long leave of absence. The best parts of this development (other than getting to do what I love and get paid for it)? It’s at my alma mater, the school where I am also the head swim coach. I’m mega-comfortable with the building itself, have the most supportive co-workers ever because I’ve known them for years, and I’m teaching U.S. government, which I have experience with because I taught it during student teaching. Plus, since I am living with my parents right now, it’s a two minute commute!

The worst parts of this development? The sudden and complete lack of time to do anything besides drink coffee, go to school, go home, drink coffee, plan, and grade. The first year of teaching is totally overwhelming and exhausting. Just think about it: you are creating all your lesson plans/strategies and gathering all your teaching resources from scratch, you don’t have a routine set yet that you can fall back into so you’re trying to find a rhythm that works well for you, you’re still relatively inexperienced at classroom management, and while you have led a classroom before, it’s the first time the ultimate responsibility for everything falls directly onto you. It’s a lot to take in and balance.


Source: via Kelly on Pinterest



It’s definitely a challenge…but I love challenges. They drive me to try my hardest, do my best, learn lessons, and do it again. Have I been stressed? yes. Have I felt lost? yes. Have I had some victories? yes. Is making me happy? totally.

I want to thank you all for your support the past year during the discouraging job search. While this isn’t a permanent position, it is an incredible opportunity and you better believe I’m going to embrace every second of it!

…which means, as you can probably guess from the date between my last post and this one, that I won’t be able to blog as much. I’d like to say this is temporary, just until I get into a routine, but once I get into a routine swim season will be starting and I’ll be thrown for a loop some more. I am for sure going to continue blogging – because I love it and it’s a great creative outlet – but I can’t do five posts a week anymore. I’m not sure how often I was doing that this summer anyway, unfortunately, but it was always my plan and, even though this is a hobby I do for my own enjoyment, I would feel guilty if I didn’t! Crazy, right?! So just to be upfront with myself and you all, my awesome readers, I will most likely only be doing 2-3 posts a week for the near future. If you are looking for other places for entertainment and inspiration on the other days or just in general, be sure to check out my recommended reads page!



Again, thank you all for your support. It means the world to me on this journey! What is new with you? Any exciting developments, challenges, or victories? What topics would you like to see focused on with only a couple posts a week?

Hope all is well with everyone! Talk to you soon : )