Book Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

So, I have to admit, I have been longing to share this book with you, and I finally got around to doing so! Today, I'm reviewing::
the unlikely pilgrimage of harold fry
Goodreads Synopsis: Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.
Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn't heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie--who is 600 miles away--because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die. 
So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories--flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband. 
Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband's sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door?
My thoughts: I loved this book! The author has a really interesting way of weaving the backstory into what you're reading, revealing only what is necessary at the time. She flips back and forth between Harold and Maureen's point of view, so you as the reader can see the story from both sides. The book leaves me often wanting more and imagining what could be. It was mostly written in a gloomy tone until you get to the very end of the book, but Joyce knows when to give a little comical relief :). Harold starts out as this set-in-his-ways, numb-to-the-world old man and slowly is brought back to life as he experiences the new and unknown world outside of his neighborhood. He meets several people on his journey who help him in some way. There are also so many twists and turns that you just have to turn the page and keep reading!!
My favorites: One of my favorite parts of this book is when Harold is on his journey and comes to a turning point. He gives up all that he has- his debit card, small amount of belongings, food, bandages, etc.- and lives by the world. It becomes a pure journey where he relies fully on what comes his way and the people he meets. It makes the story more enchanting and inspirational.
Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
"But maybe its what the world needs. A little less sense, and a little more faith."--Harold
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
And don't forget to sign up to help me out in my huge spring giveaway! It's going to be EPIC!
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30 Seconds and SIGN UP!

Hi there lovelies! Hope you are having an amazing week! It's snowing like CRAZY here in O-town, so I am cuddling up by the fire with a book, and writing some blog posts :)
I thought that I'd link up again for

30 Second Thursdays
This weeks question was, "What are you shallow about?" This one was hard for me, because i don't consider myself a shallow person. But i came up with something!

Also, I wanted to remind you, as I will be all week long, that i'd love for you to sign up to help with my Blogiversary/400 followers celebration! Here's the form- and you can donate ANYTHING you would like! I've found that participating in these giveaways will help drive traffic to your blog and increase your readership like crazy!!
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What I Wore:: HAWAII

Hey there readers! today I wanted to begin my Hawaii re-cap with a fashion post, all about my favorite outfits from the trip. Here we go!!
On the first day, I broke out the denim shorts (Forever 21) and paired them with one of my too-short swimsuit cover ups! I had to put a tank under it, but it so works, and it was nice and light-weight. Add some Walmart white studded flip flops and my Charlotte Russe sunnies and you're good to go! This picture was taken with my grandpa at the Kiluhea Lighthouse. It was a really cool point where you could look out to the ocean and do some whale watching!

This is me with my grandma and grandpa, and one night while I was there we went to a luau! It was SO much fun. This outfit starts with an Old Navy blouse-y top that I got on CLEARANCE, paired with my favorite skirt from Forever 21. I got to wear my favorite colors for this outfit, and the fresh lei ties it all together! not seen: black gladiator sandals from Walmart.

This was one of my favorite outfits from the trip! I had just got my Forever 21 black-and-white striped peplum top. I paired it with my F21 skinny jeans (for $13.50, by the way! AWESOME deal) and my gold sparkly sweater from Old Navy that I got 50% off! To add a vintage touch, I added my gold tiered necklace, which I got at an estate sale!

Here is me snorkeling in Poipu! I loved snorkeling, and my swimsuit, from Target!!

At different places around the town, I would see these book carts, and so I investigated this one- and they have these for people to browse and buy books for cheap, and all proceeds go to the local elementary school! As far as my outfit goes, black tank with my Marshalls black cardigan that can be left open, or how I have it, tied up, with black rosettes on the collar. I paired those with my bright floral skirt I got for $5! And those gladiator sandals again.

Moral of the story: when you're going on a week's vacation, pack smarter, not harder. I packed::
1 swimsuit and cover-up
1 tank top
2 pairs of shorts
1 pair of jeans
3 cardigans
4 tops
2 skirts
2 purses
1 pair of sandals
1 pair of flip-flops
1 pair of flats
1 pair of tennis shoes

Don't forget to sign up to be part of my spring giveaway! I would {puffy heart} LOVE your help!!
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Changes are A'Comin and I need your HELP!!

EEP! I can't believe I finally bit the bullet- and signed up for a custom blog design. With the money I've been making from selling things on eBay, my Dipstix, and my job, I decided that it was worth the $60 to do it. I know I'll be happier, and it will be a good investment. I just am still struggling with the fact of spending $60 on a "hobby". GAHH!
Okay, vent sesh is over. I am EXCITED to have a fresh, new, clean look where I can start having sponsors, and looking professional. So there are changes coming! And just in time too- because my blogiversary is coming up in about a month! I've also created a Twitter account and Facebook page just for the blog, that I'm getting going. They are both ROUGH right now, but hopefully once my design is changed, everything can become more streamlined! I told you updates were coming!!! I would LOVE for you to start following me on both of my new accounts, because I'll be trying to get everything going!
Along with some social media updates, I am starting to get together a blogiversary/400 followers celebration giveaway, and I would LOVE your help!! I've found that giveaways really help drive people to your blog and up your readership! For mine, you could donate anything! Gift card, ad space, product, you name it! Even if you don't have a blog, but want to feature a shop or something, you can be part! Just fill out the form below, and I'll be contacting you!
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No-Reply is No Bueno

Hi everybody! Today I have something for each and every one of you! It is a video tutorial on how to get replies from the comments you post on blogs through your email! I got comments from too many no-reply bloggers this week, and I don't want to see any NO-REPLY BLOGGERS anymore! I have 3 simple steps to make you a blogger I can reply to via email!
Leave me a comment so I can check to make sure you can receive replies via email! I'll let you know either way :)
Also, tonight is your last chance to enter to win my new Heart Map product! Head over there now!
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Aloha Updates

Hello lovelies! i hope you all are having a wonderful Valentines Day, whether you're married, in a relationship, or single, like me! (BTW for all the single sweethearts out there, you have to read Kaitlyn's post. So great if you're feeling a bit lonely today!)
Well, I'm back! Hawaii was AMAZING and oh so RELAXING! I have lots of fun pictures and memories to share (get ready for...MATING RITUAL...NEMO...LUAU...stories and more coming soon!), but I'm not going to overwhelm you today.

I do want to note that there will be some changes around here happening within the next couple of weeks! I have a long list of to-dos for the blog, including great posts, reviews, series, sponsors, and social media updates! So please stay tuned and bear with me! 
Make sure you stop by Aimee's giveaway! I'm giving away the winner's choice of an item from my Teachers pay Teachers store!

Speaking of my TPT store, I realized I never introduced my newest product on the blog! You're gonna want to stay with me for this!
My Heart Map Craftivity with Expository Writing
Now, I know Valentines Day will technically be over when you read this (at least the school day), but this activity is not specifically Valentines-ey. This craftivity pairs art and personal connection with non-fiction writing! Students create their heart maps (what they love), and work in partners interviewing each other about their maps. They take notes on their interviews and put together a summary page for each other's heart map. They are working on public speaking, listening, note-taking with a graphic organizer, and expository writing with this ONE activity! 

This is specifically designed for the "bigs" aka the older elementary students, because they should be able to do some crafting too! It will also help them practice for the writing portions of state tests coming up!
So, here's the deal. Comment below with a link to your favorite Valentines pin on Pinterest! I will choose FOUR (yes, I'm being generous today because I LOVE my readers) winners who will get this craftivity for free! Just comment and fill in the Rafflecopter form. You have until Sunday night!

Alright! Now it's back to catching up on The Bachelor for me! (I know, I know...but what can I say? I'm a hopeless romantic :)
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LOVE- Pinterest style

How are you spending Valentine's Day? I will be in the air most of the day, or maybe staying in San Francisco or Houston! Well, though my day may not be romantic, I still love LOVE!
Here are some of my favorite Valentine's pins:

CieraHolzenthal on Pinterest.

And with all of this pinning we have to link up with the lovely Michelle...
Remember to tell someone you love them tomorrow! I love all of you and will be home SOON!
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Out of the Box

Teachers- this post is especially for you!
For some reason it seems to me that the fall goes by super fast, but by the time we get to Jan/Feb/Mar time slows down to snail speed. Maybe it's the weather, all the inside recesses, antsy kids, but that's how I feel. So, I'm always looking for ways to go out of the box in teaching, managing, and growing the kids. Today, I'm going to talk to you about the ways you can jump out of the box in your classroom or home, Bath and Body Works Style.
(Working there definitely has its benefits!)
1. Shimmer Fizz
This stuff is pretty much the most fun body care ever! It goes on like a mousse, and when you rub your hand on your skin, it fizzes and crackles! It's sparkly and goes on cold. It's like pop rocks for your skin! The girls CAN'T GET ENOUGH of it and neither can I!
How can you use this? Well, you could use it as a management tool/incentive. "One pump if your table stays in green for so long". Or something like that.
Another idea is you could use it to teach adjectives! How does it feel? What does it look like? etc.
And I know what you're thinking, WHAT ABOUT THE BOYS?  Well, I'm getting to that, but secretly, they know they love it too!

2. Pocketbacs
Pocketbacs are the little mini hand sanitizers that every kid loves! They fit in your pocket, or on one of the holders that is GREAT for backpacks and purses. They clean your hands, and we have all kinds of scents!
These with a $.50 holder would be a great back-to-school gift for each student, to keep on/in/by their desk or backpack. They also would be a huge hit in your class store or reward bin. The great thing is once you buy 5 of them, their $1 each! 
Clean hands and happy kids = match made in teacher heaven!

3. Body Lotions
I love all the different fragrances they have for your hands! They keep them soft during the dry months and transport you!
This could be used as a whole class treat, maybe as a reward for an exit slip activity. Also, definitely needed for YOU!

4. Wallflower Plug-Ins
We all know that so much of student cooperation comes from the atmosphere. Use the plug-ins to fragrance your classroom with something calming! 

I hope you have some luck using some of these in your classroom to help you get through the wintry months!
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Organizing is Popular

Today I have my most popular post for you! And *BONUS* it is a DIY tutorial! Ready? OK!
I love organizing! i have a pinterest board just for that! And especially for the classroom. I've seen this floating around:

I feel like this is so true! So today for my Monday Made It I have a cute organizational tool just for you!
Here's my inspiration for this week's Made It!
I've been wanting to make a weekly dry-erase calendar like this for a really long time! Unfortunately, this pin didn't have any source, so if you're the owner, let me know and I'll give you credit! Here's my tutorial!

This was a super fun project! You could also skip the 2nd step by buying a premade collage. I got my materials at Target, and hunted around at different places for collage frames. But two 4 packs of 4x6 frames at target were $5.99 each, versus $24.99 for the collage frame with 8 frames. So making my own only cost half as much! It may not be worth it though. The hot glue gave me a lot of heart ache! But you'll have to decide that for yourself! I do love my arrangement though! 
Now all you have to do is hang it up, and use it to write on special events going on at school, or even for your home!

I'm also working on a synonym wall! It should be done for my giveaway next week! Here's a sneak peek!

I'm also linking up again with
Have you heard of The Frugal Girls? Their blog is AWESOME! They share tons of great coupons and freebies! You can subscribe to their daily email called Living Well with Less $$$! I do, and though I don't read it every day, sometimes I find some great deals! You can also look on their website! Definitely something to check out, like their Vistaprint $3 deal for 140 return address labels- which could also be used for teacher labels, or classroom library labels! Go to their page to find the full deal!  

Look for my 100 follower giveaway next week! there's still time to sign up to guest blog and/or add something to my giveaway! Comment or email me at 
How do you stay organized?

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Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

I am falling in LOVE with the crockpot! It's perfect for the family on the go! Throw in some food in the morning and have a delish meal for dinner! This recipe is no different! I found my Chicken Cacciatore recipe from Family Fresh Meals, and it has the perfect balance of spice and freshness! Here's my rendition:

1 & 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into portion-size
3-4 minced garlic cloves
28 oz diced tomatoes
6 oz tomato paste
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced 
*I only had green pepper on hand, but you can do whatever color you would like!*
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt + some for seasoning the chicken
1/2 tsp. pepper + some for seasoning chicken
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup water
1 package of your favorite pasta, prepared

1. Start by seasoning your chicken with salt and pepper, and put into the crockpot

2. Next, add minced garlic, and the rest of the spices.

3. Chop onion and peppers, and add into the crockpot.

4. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and water, and mix all of it together in the crockpot.

5. Set crockpot on low for 7 hours or high for 4 hours. I preferred the low, so that all of the flavors can marinate and meld, and the chicken is literally falling apart!
6. Serve over your favorite pasta! Enjoy!

**If you are going for a healthier version, you could also serve it over a salad, or brown rice!
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