Starting the Day Right

Hello Friends. If  you're not interested in reading about my breakfast habits, trust me, I understand, but you'll probably want to go ahead and move on to the next blog in your reader. However, I'd love to share with you two breakfast habits that have recently entered my routine and make me feel about a gazillion times healthier. So, if you're keen, keep reading.

Mean Green Smoothies

The first recipe hands down my favorite way to incorporate more dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach into my diet. It also helps me meet a goal of eating a vegetable with every meal and snack. Plus, they seriously taste GREAT. I recently made them for my 6th grade girls homeroom and 100% of them liked it. That is a SERIOUS endorsement.

1 banana
a cup or more of frozen fruit of your choice
juice of half a lemon
fill the rest of blender with torn kale (stems removed) or spinach
2 cups water (adjust to make it more or less thick.) (I add chia seeds to my water and let them soak for about 10 minutes before adding it to the smoothie)

Blend ingredients and enjoy!

Not Your Mama's Breakfast Cereal

This recipe is quickly giving my green smoothies a run for their money as my preferred breakfast, especially now that it is so cold! The base of this cereal is a chia seed pudding. If you haven't heard about these little miracle seeds, check them out! They have more omega-3 than salmon, more antioxidants than berries, and they are LOADED with soluble fiber (which is why they turn into a gel-like substance in liquid). The soluble fiber in them fills you up for a good long while and slows down insulin absorption. According to Aztec legend, Aztec men would carry chia seeds on long journeys and only needed a tablespoon to give them enough energy and sustenance for a whole day! Now if that's not a breakfast worthy food, I don't know what is! (You can find them at any natural foods store or in the bin section at whole foods. They are also available on amazon.com)

The night before you want to eat it, make the base:

2 tsp chia seeds
2 large spoon fulls each of: rolled oats, bran flakes, shredded coconut
1-2 cups vanilla almond or soy milk (I'm sure you could use regular milk too)

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a Tupperware or jar with a lid. Cover with at least a cup of milk. Refrigerate over night.

In the morning I like to add granola (My favorite is Nature's Path Hemp Plus) and about a 4th cup of chopped, raw walnuts. SO GOOD!

Let me know if you try either of these recipes!


Spain: A Picture a Day

Day 1:

La Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Day 2:
Flamenco dancer, Madrid

Day 3:
Trying on hats in the Plaza de España, Madrid

Day 4:
Cafe with Antontio in a bar that used to be a stable, Salamanca

Day 5:
Plaza Mayor, Salamanca

Day 6: 
A pulpo pincho, Salamanca

Day 7:
Paseo del Prado, Madrid

Day 8:

Foot study, Madrid



We took a long drive one Saturday a while back and ended up at Pie Lab in Greensboro, Alabama. It was a magical day. I haven't had time to post about it because I wanted to write something magical to go along with it. But, now that it's way over due, I'm just going to leave you with this little photographic snippet and move on. You should go taste for yourselves.


A Darn Good Cup of Jo

Attention coffee lovers: There's a new coffee press on the block.

I've tried several methods of non-electric coffee brewing: the two-chambered stove-top espresso maker that was the norm in Spain, french press, and the overnight cold brew for iced coffee. We've relied on french press since we decided to keep it simple and return the electric coffee maker we received as a wedding gift for cash. But lately I've grown weary of the bitter, almost muddy taste of french press as well the process of making it in the morning (clean-up being the biggest hassle).

Last weekend at the Homewood Farmers Market I consulted our farmers market neighbor and new friend, Woody, of FinerGrind Coffee Roasters. He told me about a couple different methods that he uses: the Clever Coffee Dripper, which is a pour over system, and the Aeropress. He made some pretty lofty claims about the Aeropress, something along the lines of "the best cup of coffee I've ever had" and offered us a deal that included a bag of his fresh-roasted artisan coffee, so we went for it.

Friends, we have not been disappointed. Using the press you can make a single up to a quadruple shot of pure, espresso gold in about 1 minute. Most mornings we add hot water to make an americano, but if we're feeling fancy we'll add frothed hot milk (perfect use for the old french press) for a latte.  The flavor is really up there with the most pure I've ever tasted. There is very little bitterness, so you can really taste the unique notes of the coffee you brew. And, clean-up is super simple, which is no small bonus on a busy morning.

And there you have it. A darn good cup of jo. Mornings just got that much better.


Photography: John & Jamie

My friends John and Jamie are back from their honeymoon to Austria. I'm glad because I missed them :)

Here are some beauties from their engagement shoot back in the Spring.


Homemade Peanut Butter

We go through a large container of Whole Foods freshly ground honey roasted peanutbutter a week. Seriously. When I'm craving something sweet, I grab a spoon and feel pretty good about the indulgence because I know that it's essentially the same as eating a handful of honey roasted peanuts.

I help cook with the kids at Nehemiah's Quest, the biweekly work day that Keith runs for the kids in Rosedale, and this week we decided to make homemade peanut butter for lunch. I was really surprised by how easy it was to make at home! I'm not sure how it works that there is no oil added to the Whole Foods version. We had to add a little peanut oil to get the consistency right, but other than that, I think this version tastes at least as good.

We used it to make peanut butter sandwiches with apple (we got local apples in our CSA today!) and honey. Personally I like to keep it simple and eat my peanut butter with a spoon.


1 cup plain, roasted peanuts
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp peanut oil

Combine in a food processor, adding in the order listed until smooth. Adjust the amount of honey to your taste. You could also get crazy and add chocolate, try it with other nuts, etc.

Also, I need to let you know that the child pictured below is one of my favorite children on the face of this earth.

This out-of-focus picture taken by his sister really makes me happy. He LOVES Paul.


Looking Forward to Going Back: October Trip to Spain

Every once in a while, almost out of nowhere, it hits me. Sweeps over me in an unexpected wave that for a moment makes my heart lurch and sends a tingle of adrenaline down my fingertips and toes. A certain, perfect sip of strong coffee balanced just right with rich, frothy milk and sweetness. The face of a friend appearing on my facebook homepage. A group passing by me on the sidewalk in Highlands with an unmistakable accent and attitude. A song that instantly brings me back to a lonely bus ride, possibilities and uncertainties masked in the darkness covering an unknown landscape, my head pressed against the cold window; too excited to sleep.

It wasn't a dream. I really lived in Spain for nine months. Ate, slept, walked, dreamed, longed, grew, shared--in a country not my own. When I was there, I longed to be here. And when I am here I am happy and fulfilled. But there are those moments. Moments. When I just want to be back in a little cafe, drinking café con leche, staring out at a world older than anything I know in my world. In a place that is mysterious and other. 

What is it about travel that has such potential to change us? And at the same time, make us reflect on who we are?

In October I'll have the amazing opportunity to retrace my steps, to actually get to go back to those moments, those cafes, those streets. And this time I won't just be daydreaming about sharing it all with my love, he'll be at my side, across the table, really there. And everything that was old will be new. And we'll make new discoveries together.  

We leave in a couple months, but planning has begun. I really want to preserve the trip and celebrate it, reflect on it, and be able to share it.

 I'm looking for a creative, simple, easy-to-carry way to help us do that. These are some interesting travel journals I've stumbled across. But of course, there is always the allure and limitless potential of the plain, blank moleskine . . . 

Poketo Travel Journal

Present and Correct - Library Travel Journal

I Was Here: A Travel Journal for the Curious Minded
Abroad: A Travel Journal & Organizer

Any thoughts or ideas? How do you document your journeys? 


Photography: The Sewell's at Home

Another fun shoot I got to do this summer was with my friends Pat and Keri to help them celebrate their new home together (after 6 months of interstate marraige!). They are pretty awesome, and we're glad to have them both in Birmingham these days! Here are some favorites!


Photography: Allison & Joseph

I've gotten the opportunity to do a lot of photo shoots since this post (thanks people!), and I have really, really enjoyed it. With each experience I feel like I grow and learn a lot about my camera, my style, and my ability (or humble lack thereof) to make people feel comfortable. This week I'll share my favorites from some shoots earlier this summer.

Yesterday I got the opportunity to do Joseph and Allison's engagement pictures. We did the session at Jones Valley. Before the shoot I did a little bit of research looking at pictures I liked on pinterest, and noting ones that reminded me of Allison and Joseph. I planned a few ideas, jotted them down on a notecard, and headed to the farm. I felt so much more relaxed and in control because I had a plan. It was by far the most fun I've had doing a photo shoot. And, not surprisingly, because I was relaxed, so were my friends. Lesson learned! I'm mid-way through editing, but I couldn't wait to share since they are so stinkin' cute. Here's a teaser. One of my favorites:

Ok, fine. Here's another one.

More to come!


Back to School

It's that time of year. With 80 more students than I had last year, it has been a blur so far. But for now you'll just have to trust me that the summer was at least as busy, so things are just rolling right along. I'll try to do a recap of the summer, but until then, I thought I'd share some snapshots of the first week of school. I really do want to stop and reflect and capture moments, even with life moving at such a pace.

My classroom.
I've transitioned to planning my lessons around a lot more group work, so my classroom reflects that. I've also painted a fun chalkboard on a wall! We'll eventually write essential agreements up there and all the students will sign it.
5th grade girls at Lunch.
The lunch room is packed with all the new students. We'll open a new building in October that will house a new cafeteria, gym, and some classrooms. Until then, we're just a little cozy!

A dream for 6th grade, written by one of my girls.
I had the students and parents who came to orientation write their hopes and dreams for 6th grade and place them on my wall. This was one of my favorites. Gotta love the heart-dotted i's! Classic 6th grade girl!
Looking sharp at morning carpool.
I adore the 4 year olds. Sometimes teaching so many ages and levels is overwhelming, but the sweet cuties in K-4 make it worth it every day!
A K-4 Superstar.

I'm trying to give my students an in depth look at what other cultures are and avoid cultural stereotypes and go beyond the surface ideas of the "4 f's: food, fashion, flags, festivals" . . . But this little guys jazzes up my window sill, so we'll let  him stay :)


Cinco de Mayo: Crafts and Celebrations

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Today is a big day for Spanish classes at Cornerstone! We've been gearing up for weeks, learning about the history, making decorations, practicing dances, and of course: making piñatas! I thought I'd share some really fun, easy Cinco de Mayo crafts for kids of all ages!

We made Mexican paper flowers, a Cinco de Mayo banner, and a  piñata! Here are all the supplies before chaos ensued :)All grades did at least one of these crafts, and they did great!

My festive hallway.

Finishing the piñata.

I'll post a video tomorrow of this dance in action.