About Diana

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Ever have one of those things that you keep intending to get around to, and yet you keep finding yourself busy, or distracted, or too exhausted to deal with it?  I’ve spent these past three months either ignoring Smiles Go With Everything or trying to decide what to do with it.  And I’m still trying to decide.  Right now, I’m just not feeling it.  Sometimes I’ll get an idea and think, “That would be a great post”.   But then instead of documenting it, I just focus on living life and enjoying it in the moment.

I’m still not quite ready to let go of Smiles yet.  I’m just not quite sure what direction to take it in either.  Maybe once a week posts about things I’ve thrifted or thoughts on life.  Or maybe it’s just time to be done.

For now, I am posting a lot on my professional school library blog, Intarsia for Technicals.  If you’re interested in keeping up with how I’m doing, following me on there or on Instagram is probably your best bet.

I just upgraded my computer, so having a system that isn’t slow as molasses might help me get back to posting again.  We’ll see.  At this point I’m not making any promises, but I wanted to keep you up to date with what’s going on.


Paleo French Toast (yes, that's sugar)

Paleo French Toast (yes, that’s sugar)

 

**Trying to find a posting speed that works for me, so I’m starting out a new weekly post: Things that made me smile.  This post is a way to reflect on my week and what was good about it.  And it’s a nice way to share iPhone photos.  Still thinking about how exactly this will work, but wanted to go ahead and get something down.**

Things that made me smile this week:

  • Taking a much needed day off
  • Riding my bike to a local coffee shop that serves Paleo french toast!  With homemade syrup made from honey and turbinado sugar!
  • Reading in bed while drinking coffee
  • Frogging a knitting project to make sure it’s just right
  • Getting donations of yarn and LEGOs for my school’s budding library Makerspace (where kids can tinker and create)
  • Talking with some really cool librarians on Twitter
  • Finding out that there’s a season of Boardwalk Empire on Netflix that I haven’t seen yet

What made you smile this week?

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The Winter 14

Yes, I disappeared from the Interwebs for awhile there.  I’ve been spending so much time focused on my career (and my library blog) that Smiles Go With Everything got neglected.  I’m sorry.  I only have so much energy, and lately I’ve just been spent.  I’m still trying to figure out the new direction for Smiles Go With Everything.  I need to find a blogging flow for it and I’m just not there yet.  I’m still not giving up on it, I just need to do some reflecting.

Meanwhile, it’s now Spring and time to think and reflect on Winter and my Winter 14 goals.

PERSONAL/ HOME

  • Blog on Smiles Go With Everything at least 2x week – Well obviously, this didn’t happen at all.
  • Frog an old project and knit something new - I’m knitting and reknitting a scarf right now, and I’ve also started on a blanket with some yarn from a sweater I never wore.
  • Do some serious mending and alterations - I got a lot done in this realm.  Still more projects to work on, but my to-do pile is a lot smaller now

FOOD

  • Plant 2nd veggie garden – The weather was pretty rotten this winter.  I just never got around to this.
  • Try 4 new recipes and blog them - For some reason I have NOT been motivated to cook these past couple months.  Just getting by with my regular recipes has been all I wanted to do.

HEALTH

  • Walk 10,000 steps each day - Turns out I was pretty much already doing this anyhow
  • Go to Yoga class five times during the season- I bought the class package and never went :(
  • Make or buy some blackout curtains for the bedroom - Done!  And it’s made a huge difference

FINANCIAL

  • Use Mint to set a budget - Done, mostly.  I still go over budget sometimes, but I’m more aware of where my money goes.
  • Pay off that credit card!!! – A couple more paychecks and this one will be done too.

CAREER

  • Join a Twitter chat – Done many times over!  I’ve been really focused on my career this season, and professional Twitter chats have been a part of it.
  • Watch a TED talk- Done many times over.  TED talks are becoming a Sunday ritual for me.

SPIRITUAL

  • Download a meditation app and try it out – Downloaded but never used.  Maybe trying this would actually help other areas of my life.
  • Attend a local  meditation class – Not even close.  I’ve been way too busy lately.

Overall evaluation: I’ve been busy and have had no energy to do anything but focus on my job.  I LOVE my job, but I need to find some more balance in my life too.  Not quite ready to commit to Spring goals yet, but they will definitely involve finding more balance in life.


Chevron Herringbone Slacks from LOFT

Chevron Herringbone Slacks from LOFT

I hardly ever go shopping at the mall.  I tend to stick mostly to consignment and thrift stores for all my style needs.  But sometimes, your wardrobe needs a quick boost.  I had come to realize that my professional wardrobe was seriously lacking.  Everyday, I was having trouble putting together outfits that wouldn’t get me confused for one of my students (this happens way too often.  I’m not 13).  So, with my tax rebate on the way and a credit card in hand, I decided to take myself on a little shopping spree.  I set a budget for myself, limiting to a dollar amount that I know I can pay off completely with my tax return.  I decided to mainly shop at Ann Taylor LOFT, since I tend to like their clothes, AND because they offer a teacher discount.

Here’s what I ended up with:

I can’t seem to find any pictures of the second two since they were on clearance.  Guess I’ll have to take some outfit pictures :)  I also bought a black cami at Nordstrom.  I spent less than $200, and I’ve now got some great new work essentials.  Still need to work on getting some nice tops though.  I’m planning a trip to Nordstrom Rack in a couple of weeks for that.


My favorite place in the world

My favorite place in the world

I was diagnosed with ADD back when I was in first grade.  I’ve never really seen this as a hinderance – in fact, I think a lot of my creativity and quirkiness comes from the way my brain works.  I’m better at paying attention (somewhat) now than I was as a child, though I’m still easily distracted (What?  There’s a kitty over there?).  One aspect of ADD that I didn’t learn about until I was an adult, but that I definitely see in my life, is hyper-focus.  This is a frequent occurrence in people with ADD, where they become focused on one particular thing to the point of obsession, where it’s all they can think or talk about.  I’ve seen this in both small periods of time (spending hours editing the CSS of my blog) and longer periods of time (obsessions with anything from knitting to Paleo foods to Crossfit)  These periods of hyperfocus mean that I get a lot done, in the area that I’m focusing on.  I read voraciously, I create new boards on Pinterest, I find every bit of information on the topic that I can.  But unfortunately, this often ends up being at the expense of other aspects of my life.

Right now, my hyper-focus is on my career, specially, on starting a Makerspace in my library as part of the Maker Education movement.  Maker Education started as part of the Make organization, and it’s more or less a fancy, catchy way of talking about how DIY helps students to activate their brains and their creativity.  The Makerspace I’m working towards already has K’nex for students to build with, and eventually I’m looking to add LEGOS, small electronics students can solder and tinker with, toys like Makey Makey, Squishy Circuits and Snap Circuits, as well as regular old crafts like yarn for knitting, weaving and crocheting, duct tape, and other craft supplies.  My goal is to give the students a place to learn creatively, think about design, and just have fun.

My focus though, has resulted in neglecting other areas of my life.  I’ve worked through about half of my Winter 14 goals, but the rest are a bit stalled.  While I’ve been walking a lot, I haven’t lifted weights in over a month.  Most days when I come home from work my brain feels so fried from all these different ideas and things I’ve been thinking about, that I just want to sit and watch some television or read a YA novel.

I guess what I’m trying to figure out now is how to make it all balance.  I don’t want to stop hyperfocusing – amazing things happen when I put so much energy into one project or idea.  But I want to find a way to still keep everything else going.  To work on projects that have nothing to do with what I’m hyperfocusing on.  It’s not easy, but there has to be a way.

How do you maintain balance in your life?

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Meat gravy!

Meat gravy!

**Every season, I post a set of goals that I set out to accomplish. I track my progress here on my blog. I like the challenge of setting goals – it helps me to accomplish so much more. This post features my Winter 14 goals**

When I was a in first grade, we had to fill out a worksheet about our favorite things.  I very clearly remember what I wrote as my favorite food: my mom’s mashed potatoes with meat gravy.  This gravy was made with ground beef and a can of cream of mushroom soup, plus other stuff that I don’t remember.  It was SO good.  I’ve missed that flavor for years.  It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten anything with cream of mushroom soup – one look at the ingredients label is enough to scare me away.  So this weekend, I decided to try to recreate this childhood favorite using natural, whole ingredients.

Reliving my childhood

Reliving my childhood

I made traditional mashed potatoes (not officially “paleo”, but it’s all whole foods), and heated up some peas.  For the gravy, I fried up some bacon (why not?), and then browned the ground beef in bacon grease.  I chopped up the bacon, chopped up some portobellos, onions and garlic, and sauteed it all together.  I then added vegetable broth (I’d rather use homemade beef stock, but I didn’t have any on hand), simmered it, added some arrowroot starch to thicken it, and finally added a little heavy cream.

The results: Amazing!  It’s so, so good, and even my husband likes it.  This will be making a regular rotation in my kitchen now.

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**Every season, I post a set of goals that I set out to accomplish. I track my progress here on my blog. I like the challenge of setting goals – it helps me to accomplish so much more. This post features my Winter 14 goals**

Picking out my first TED talk

Picking out my first TED talk

 

I’ve been hearing about how awesome TED talks are for the longest time, but I had never bothered to sit down and watch one.  For my Winter 14, I decided to do just that.  I had saved links to several good TED talks for educators, and decided to watch Ken Robinson’s talk on whether or not education kills creativity.  Here it is if you’re interested.

I ended up listening to the talk on my iPhone while taking notes on my iPad.  I really enjoyed the talk, and have already bookmarked several others I want to listen too.  I think this might be a nice weekly ritual for me, like watching a talk every Sunday morning.  I was also pleased to discover that there;s a great variety in the length of TED talks;  some are only a couple minutes, others are closer to half an hour.  I’ve heard of teachers using shorter TED talks in lessons – I might look into some ways I can incorporate them into my teaching.  I’m working on a post on my librarian blog reflecting on this TED talk.  I think a lot about creativity in education, and I’ve got a lot to say on this topic.

 

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**Every season, I post a set of goals that I set out to accomplish. I track my progress here on my blog. I like the challenge of setting goals – it helps me to accomplish so much more. This post features my Winter 14 goals**

Just checking in with how things are going.  Some goals I’ve been nailing;  others, not so much.

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PERSONAL/ HOME 

  • Blog on Smiles Go With Everything at least 2x week – I’ve been more or less getting better than this.  I’ve been kind of busy with my librarian blog too, but I’m getting the hang of the balancing act.
  • Frog an old project and knit something new - My Clapotis is looking great!  I’m even starting on a couple of additional projects.
  • Do some serious mending and alterations - Done a couple of projects so far.

FOOD

  • Plant 2nd veggie garden – Nothing yet.  Haven’t had time.
  • Try 4 new recipes and blog them - One down, three to go.

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HEALTH

  • Walk 10,000 steps each day - My Fitbit has been tracking my steps for me, and I’ve found that I easily get 10,000 steps most work days.  I’m working on adding in more walks on the weekends, but this goal may have been set too low.  One busy day I had 17,000 steps!
  • Go to Yoga class five times during the season- Still need to do this.
  • Make or buy some blackout curtains for the bedroom - Done!

FINANCIAL

  • Use Mint to set a budget - Been checking into Mint a couple times every week, still working on getting a handle on my money.
  • Pay off that credit card!!! – Paid about $200 on it so far.

CAREER

  • Join a Twitter chat – Done!
  • Watch a TED talk- Done!  Will blog about it soon.

SPIRITUAL

  • Download a meditation app and try it out – I’ve downloaded a couple; haven’t used them yet.
  • Attend a local  meditation class – I’ve looked up class times.

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**Every season, I post a set of goals that I set out to accomplish. I track my progress here on my blog. I like the challenge of setting goals – it helps me to accomplish so much more. This post features my Winter 14 goals**

Czech meatballs

Czech meatballs

 

I have a bad habit of always making the same handful of recipes over and over again.  So one of my Winter 14 challenges is to try out some new recipes.  I make pork meatballs a lot, usually the Thanksgiving meatball recipe from Practical Paleo or my own Asian meatball concoction.  But I wanted to try out something different, so I decided to turn to the Czech meatballs recipe in Well Fed.

All ready to go

All ready to go

This recipe was my first time using caraway seeds, and it also gave me a good excuse to buy some grainy mustard.  The recipe was very different from other meatball recipes I’ve tried, and the flavor was amazing.  They were perfect dipped in mustard or mayo alongside mashed potatoes (yes, not officially paleo, but it’s not like I eat them every day).

Served with mustard, mayo and mashed potatoes

Served with mustard, mayo and mashed potatoes

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**Every season, I post a set of goals that I set out to accomplish. I track my progress here on my blog. I like the challenge of setting goals – it helps me to accomplish so much more. This post features my Winter 14 goals**

My First Twitter Chat

My First Twitter Chat

 

Note: I have two different Twitter accounts: one professional and one personal.  This post is about my professional Twitter.

I’ve been hearing so much about the value of Twitter chats for professional development ever since I joined Twitter professionally in August .  But I had always been too intimidated and/or busy to try one.  I finally decided to take the plunge as part of my 14 in 2014.  I started out by reading up on the basics of participating in Twitter chats.  I then found more resources and a list of some good Twitter education chats plus an insanely detailed list of chats and yet another list of hashtags.

My first attempt at a Twitter chat (#plpnetwork) didn’t go so well, because I had thought that I could multi-task while chatting.  Oh was I wrong.  When you’re in a Twitter chat, things are moving so fast that it’s impossible to do anything else.  For my next chat (#edchat) I blocked out some time where I knew I could be at my computer with no other distractions.

I chose to use TweetChat as my tool to help me follow the chat.  Basically what it does is sign you into Twitter, then only shows you tweets with the hashtag you select.  You can pause the feed if things are moving too quickly, and you can also hide all retweets (do this!).  Even then, the pace can still be insane.  My brain felt like it was going 90 miles an hour during the chat.

And yet, it was awesome.  I’m already working on some new ideas I got from the chat.  I favorited tweets I wanted to look back at and jotted down ideas and inspirations after the chat.  I networked with about 10 educators I have never met before, and now we’re all following each others feeds.  It was a very valuable experience, and it’s one that I plan to repeat a lot.

I’m going to look at other, more specific chats to participate in.  I’m also going to experiment with some other Twitter aggregator sites, although I liked the simplicity of TweetChat a lot.  Once I get more comfortable with it, I plan on presenting on Twitter to my faculty, and I’ll be able to give them plenty of solid reasons as to why Twitter can be amazing for your professional development.

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