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Back to School Essentials

Well it’s here! Ready or not school is around the corner. As a teacher {going into my 6th year} I have my personal list of essentials for the school year. Nothing too exotic or unexpected here, but just a collection of my favorite things that get me into the teaching groove and help make the magic happen. You know, nothing like a little brain food, kitschy office supplies, and minty/gold accessories to get the synapses flowing. Looking forward to routines, post-it note over usage, catching up with colleagues, lesson planning fun STEM lessons, filling up my planner(s) like it’s my job {oh wait it is}, and most importantly meeting all of the incoming 4th graders! It’s time to be more awesome. #letsdothis

The Gear





The Organizational Tools







The De-Stressers



The Snacks 




Restaurant Review // Cafe Bueno

After 12+ years working in the restaurant industry I feel I hold many of the credentials needed to truly ‘review’ restaurants at this point in my life. I take critiquing restaurants in general pretty lightly, however after all these years I feel I do know a thing or three when it comes to running a successful establishment. I’ve worked in fine dining restaurants, micro-breweries, country clubs, seafood restaurants, gastro pubs, cocktail bars, in addition to major catering companies that throw intimate gatherings & big fat weddings. I’ve been a hostess, runner, busser, bar-back, bartender, waitress, assistant manager, and an event coordinator. I’ve been exposed to cuisines that run the gamete and clientele that is just as broad. And I’ve worked in restaurants in MD, NC, and in the UK. Essentially I’ve developed a side-restaurant-career, of sorts. 

Oh and I  love to eat. I grew up eating at amazing restaurants, thanks in major part to my parents & grandparents. Growing up close to DC and Baltimore going out to dinner was part of the adventure. When visiting my grandparents in Palm Beach, FL or Palm Springs,CA dinner was scouted & planned well in advance. They were never too concerned with the ‘fancy’ aspects {sure that was an added bonus} but more so for the exposure to quality food, different cuisines and exceptional dining experiences. At the end of the day restaurants are the facilitators of memorable moments. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate those well crafted moments more and more. Good food, good friends, beautiful space, magical ambiance…what’s not to love about that?

Restaurant reviewers are often looked at as snooty, detached, and unrealistic. Just trying to make the point, that’s not the case here. I get it. I’ve been around it, experienced it, & lived it for a greater part of my life. And with that being said…I give you my first official restaurant review. Enjoy! :)

Last week I got a major hankering for some huevos rancheros. Like major. Lucky for me I remembered a friend recommending that I check out Cafe Bueno. I’ve driven past it several times and had heard several people sing it’s praises but never ventured in myself.

Cafe Bueno
503 North East Street
Frederick, MD 21701

 To cure my huevos fever I had the Huevos con Chorizo and it was muy muy bueno! Eggs were served scrambled with spicy crumbled chorizo sausage, a side of refried beans, mexican rice, and freshly made corn tortillas. I also ordered a side of guacamole and chips, which turned this breakfast into one killer brunch for uno.

Below is my official Restaurant Review Rubric. As you can see Cafe Bueno scored a very solid 30/40 on my scale. Overall I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by all aspects of this establishment. I have to say I think this place is a little diamond in the rough. Here are a couple of specific points I noted during my dining experience.

  • food was seriously {seriously} tasty
  • no liquor licence = BYOB
  • serves breakfast everyday until 11am
  • menu is 1/2 ‘classic american’ & 1/3 ‘authentic mexican’
  • only minor negative critique was their television choice…Jerry Springer {though muted was still a bit of a buzz kill}
  • the atmosphere feels rooted in the community and totally welcoming
  • every order of chips are made fresh and include a complimentary cup of salsa #score
  • speaking of the chips…yeah those were some of the best tortilla chips I’ve had. maybe ever?
  • the trio of homemade sauces that accompany your meal serve as perfect condiments for extra heat & flavor



bottom line…check it out.
de nada.


Ladies, we’re talking LASHES + a GIVEAWAY

mascara face
Ok stop laughing,  we all do it. Admit it or watch yourself while applying mascara next time. No really watch yourself, not just your eye. Only for a second! Don’t want anyone poking their eye out.  Why are we talking lashes? Well my BFF & dear dear friend Kasey is selling this incredible new product that makes your eyelashes truly pop! They’re called 3D Fiber Lashes and they’re pretty incredible. I’ll admit I was a little hesitant at first. I had never heard of this cosmetic brand nor this concept of adding fibers to your lashes on top of regular old mascara. BUT! I did know one thing, Kasey and I have had 15+ year friendship filled with beauty secrets {among others} and if she said this stuff was the bees knees, I knew it had to be.  
Younique is unique in the sense that it’s the first direct sales beauty company that allows presenters to use social media to throw virtual parties. This company is similar in structure to that of like MaryKay or Avon where there are consultants who throw parties etc. however it’s much more convenient because you can attend these “parties” from your couch in your pjs thanks to social media! Pretty great idea if you ask me. I always feel so awkward at those kind of parties. The peer pressure to buy things you aren’t really into + the silly ice-breaker games…ugh ain’t nobody got time for that! This platform really is the best of both worlds, it’s still in the spirit of social enterprise and entrepreneurship, minus the awkward encounters. #winning
So as I said, Kasey says you gotta try this…I don’t think twice. And you guys, wow! This stuff is kinda magical. I’ve been blessed with my Daddy’s eyes, so I’ve always had longer eyelashes. However they’re mostly blonde and practically invisible without some mascara. Hence, I wear mascara just about everyday. If I don’t, I’m either sick or having a blonde moment and simply forgot. My favorite mascaras brands in the past have been Benefit, Lancome, Bobbi Brown, MaryKay and of course good old Maybeline. Until now…
This stuff is the stuff. Seriously. It’s an extra 3 steps to add to your beauty routine, but in my opinion it’s worth it. Especially when strangers ask you if your eyelashes are real. 
As a contact wearer I was worried that I’d have the usual issue of clumping and flaking, but thankfully that is not a problem at all! 
So how does it work?
The simple three-step process combines Transplanting Gel and Natural Fibers to help create the appearance of incredible thickness and volume to your existing lashes. Watch as your lashes transform into something you have only dreamed of! The 3D Fiber Lashes are water resistant but easily washes off with warm water and facial cleanser at the end of the day. Or they come right off with regular eye makeup remover. Honesty they come off easier than a lot of my old mascaras I used by themselves! 
What do you do?
To prepare your eyelashes for optimal results, first apply one thin coat of your own regular favorite mascara and let it dry. 1. Then, apply Moodstruck Transplanting Gel to your lashes. Immediately following, and while the gel is still wet, 2. apply the Moodstruck Natural Fibers. 3. Reapply the Transplanting Gel a second time to secure the natural fibers onto your lashes. 
That’s it. 
Soooo…you want to try it for yourself?? Well you’re in luck. Kasey is giving away a 3D Fiber Lash set right here! Enter to win below. If you gotta get your hands on this stuff ASAP you can buy directly from Kasey here. The turnaround time on these orders was pretty impressive, so you could have 3D lashes by next week ladies. Just sayin… ;) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
fabulash weekend
**this is not a sponsored post**


Thursday Things…

Sup ya’ll. It’s been awhile, but as always the thoughts & things are ever present. Let’s do this. {insert emoji fist pump}

1. First of all it’s August. Yes, it got here fast but it didn’t. That totally makes sense, right? Not that it feels like August {thank gooodnessss}, these low-humidity breezy days feel more like April or September aka my favorite months of the year.  But apparently August it is. How do I know? Well everyone and their brother is asking me when school starts. As a teacher I realize you’re slightly jealous of my summer. Yes.  I’ve been off for a couple weeks and I KNOW, school is starting soon. It’ d be like if every-time I saw you I’d ask when something is coming up at your job that you don’t particularly enjoy. Like, ‘hey, how’s it going, when’s that lengthy fiscal report due??’ Or ‘Yeah I heard all of your employee’s  health insurance paperwork is coming up!’ Ok it’s obvious I’ve never worked an “office” job, but you get the idea.  It’s like the second question after the standard “Hi, how are ya blah blah.” Here’s a hint, teachers don’t like repeating things. Especially things they aren’t exactly psyched about it. The beginning of the school year begins like a sprint followed by a full-fledged marathon. More like triathlon. It completely takes it out of you. I’d love to see a CAT scan of my brain activity those first few weeks/months of school. You’re thinking about 27 things at once and have about 2 days to get it all done. Bottom line, the beginning of school is not something most {speaking from personal experience of course} teachers look forward to. The school year in general? Yeah I definitely am looking forward to that. Especially since this year I’ll be teaching STEM {science, technology, engineering, mathematics} and STEM only! Whew hooooo! Finally I’ll be able to go a mile deep and an inch wide into my subject area  instead of the opposite when general ed teachers are expected to teach everythingggg. Cheers to another year full of teaching lessons and learning them.

2. I thought of a great book title the other day…”Under pressure: love, marriage and selfies.” Could be something. Or just a random thought. We’ll seeee. 

3. Kindness from strangers is so unexpected these days we almost don’t know how to handle it when it does occur. I was with my mother at Johns Hopkins {for a check-up, she’s fine!} using the restroom, a voice suddenly comes to me from the next stall over asking me if I saw there was a flood watch in effect. She had to repeat herself 3 times because it took me that many times to realize she was talking to me. She was warning me because she was genuinely concerned and wanted me to know about it. So I stuttered and mumbled oh thank you in a sort of disbelief and confusion. We caught eyes while I was at the sink washing my hands, and I saw the sweet voice that I had heard came from a woman no more than 4″9 at least in her 70′s who was dressed in compression socks, a long black shirt, white sneakers, and a hot pink button-up top. She wore a wrap on her head and bedazzled leopard print baseball hat. She was talking on her flip phone as she was leaving the bathroom.  I was finishing washing my hands and without hesitation or second thought she reached for a paper towel and folded it neatly in my direction and was out the door before I could say thank you. Why is this not the norm? It’s such simple friendliness but it’s so unusual these days. It’s like everyone has blinders on. They see you but they don’t really. They make eye contact but not too long to start any sort of conversation. Snap out of it, I say. It makes you think about when strangers get put into situations where they have to interact and what that would be like. I want to be around people like her. Though her actions quite small, they speak volumes to the type of person she is. And the fact that it caught me so off guard says a lot.  Thanks for leading by example lady. I’ll letcha keep your leopard print bedazzled baseball hat though. That’s all you!

4. Ok so unless you’re anti-Facebook or haven’t been paying attention…a lot of people have been dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. Why? Well to raise awareness and money for ALS, a horrible often paralyzing disease. This ice bucket challenge has become a thing. It seems as if everyone  is posting videos of themselves either dumping ice water on themselves or having someone else dump it on them. Everyone from the average Joe to numerous celebrities and even the POTUS has been challenged to do so. Who am I to stop people from wanting to pour freezing water on their heads?? I think all in all this campaign is a good thing because of how much attention it’s drawing and funds it’s {hopefully} raising. However, it does raise a question or two in my mind. Like, what do the people suffering from ALS think? This debilitating disease shuts down their nervous system leaving them without the ability to have control of their muscles. It makes me wonder what they must think when they see perfectly healthy people dumping ice water on themselves and then jumping around and laughing while trying to shake off the numbing rush. It makes me wonder if those people are pausing to think how people with this disease wouldn’t be able to do what they’re doing they way they’re doing it. I wonder if that numbing/lack of control feeling they feel momentarily sinks in enough to give them an idea of what it must feel like to be numb to your muscles all the time. I do not have this disease nor do I know anyone who does, but I often wonder when something for a good cause becomes more like a fad than just a message, if it loses it’s true purpose. I’ve had a lot of experience fundraising for a variety of causes and I’ve certainly learned that you have to get people engaged to be successful. And this has absolutely done that. Yet it’s a perfect example of how we operate. Why is it that dumping ice water on our heads gets us to donate to a good cause, yet just the simple fact that it’s a good cause isn’t enough? At the end of the day if this raises money for a disease with no cure I think it’s terrific and I applaud it. It’s getting people talking and yes it’s making people much more aware. But, what’s the true reason behind doing the ice bucket challenge? Is it to show your support visually & monetarily or to get notoriety on FB or Twitter when you post your video? The verdict is still out…but it’s something to consider and certainly an interesting social experiment for the time being.

5. As you grow up you’re led to believe if you’re fair,  honest, do good  people will give you respect you deserve. Unfortunately this is not always the case. People form their own opinions of you based on their own interpretation of things you’ve said or done. It’s just a fact of life, there’s three sides to every story. His side, her side and the truth. In the past year I’ve had people make assumptions about me without knowing me, or even worse judge me for actions I’ve taken based on what they think occurred etc. It’s hard not to make snap judgements or to judge a book by it’s cover. However it’s unfortunate when people’s interpretations and words of you lead you to feeling like you cannot live your life how you’d like to. Although I’m pulling from personal experience for this insight, I’ve seen this play out from an outside perspective as well. I’ve watched people with a small-town mindset judge others or make assumptions based on interpretations rather than facts. I’ve witnessed people make choices to purposefully hurt others in a way that somehow vindicates their feelings about them. When these things happen you have 3 choices, fight/flight/ or…the higher road. Instinctively I tend to want to fight it. It’s the stubborn streak in me that wants to prove how wrong someone or something is. This option usually just causes more issues and isn’t worth the time, effort, or wasted emotion involved. Some people have a flight instinct. They want to just slip away because maybe it hurts too much or it’s too overwhelming to deal with. I don’t necessarily agree with this option either. Slipping away almost sends the message of the bad puppy with it’s head between it’s legs. The higher road is less traveled for a reason, it’s hard. It’s full of self-doubt and hurtful bumps and obstacles that are unruly variables. However, I’ve found at the end of the day the higher road is much more fulfilling. It really does bring a sense of peace and content. You know your truth. You experienced it. And no one can take that away from you.

6. This is so very true & a HINT for things coming your way tomorrow…



7. Robin Williams. By now we’ve all had a moment to let the news sink in. It’s strange phenomenon when someone you don’t know dies and yet you feel the loss. Robin was so immersed in our pop-culture and such a caricature of comedy.  He was a legend in his own right. A deeply talented person who like many gifted people constantly fought deep and dark demons of his own. There’s a definite feeling of sadness to know he had lost hope. But at the end of the day suicide is a choice. All choices have a consequence, some much more devastating and final than others. I think it’s a true shame and a testament to our noisy & obsessive media that we must be broadcast-ed all the image-filling details of his choice. That’s not how I want to remember him, because was so much more than a comedian. He was an artist. And I want to remember his craft. I want to remember the him imitating GW Bush and Dick Cheney simultaneously. I want to remember all 50+ voices he’d switch back and forth from without blinking an eye. I want to remember his more serious and brilliant side that shined through his  intellectually-fueled stand up routines. I want to remember him as the genie in Aladdin and the inspiring professor(s). I’m choosing to remember him as he was when he was living because I think he deserves that dignity. I’m forever grateful for the laughs, Mr. Williams.  And if heaven exists, they sure are laughing now.


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