Wednesday, November 4, 2015


This past weekend, Peter's mom was visiting and we took the opportunity to go visit Alcatraz! It's been on our list to visit for awhile now, but we've been waiting for an excuse (someone to visit) to go.

It was fascinating.

You have to take a ferry to get there, which pays for your admission into the park, along with a great audio tour.

The ferry ride has spectacular views of San Francisco, the Bay Bridge and the bay itself. It's about a 20 minute ride there and a 20 minute ride back. This is the one thing you need to plan in advanced, you need a reservation.

Once we got on the island, we started the audio tour. The tour was great - It has you walk throughout the cell house, takes you to different cells, and gives you a real sense of the history of Alcatraz. It lasts about an hour, but we took our time, stopping and exploring parts that the tour went by quickly. There was a lot to take in. It was my first time ever visiting a prison, and it made me really curious as to what prisons look like on the inside these days (apart from my expectations from Orange is the New Black). 

The other perk of Alcatraz is the amazing views from every spot on the island. Each gives you a perfect bay background, no matter which direction you face!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Taking Stock: November

happy halloween from a gnome and a penguin!

M A K I N G : (or at least thinking about it) a felted ball garland! I just ordered a bunch of different felted balls from this etsy shop (I got an assorted set of 25), and I'm excited to get crafty next weekend (or whenever they arrive!). If it goes well, I may order a few more in the christmas colors to make a wreath for our front door.

D R I N K I N G : Shipyard Pumpkinhead. I'm easing back into the work week with one of my favorite flavored beers. When we found it last year in BevMo, Peter and I went a little overboard getting multiple 6-packs, this year we just opted for one :) It always brings me back to fall in Maine.

W A N T I N G : to reread the happiness project. I read it my senior year of college, but a lot of it was not relevant. I would love to do a reread especially with her chapters about keeping a home clean and maintaining a work-life balance.

W A T C H I N G : the packers play the broncos, slightly reluctantly. My Sunday and Monday nights are filled with football courtesy of Peter.

R E A D I N G : motherless daughters. I recently got news that a very good family friend was diagnosed with the same cancer my mother had when she passed away 8 years ago. It really affected me this past month, and I've been thinking a lot about my mom. A friend who's mother also passed away while they were in high school recommended the book for me and though emotional, there have been so many "so that's why" moments, or "I'm not the only one..." I would highly recommend it for anyone who's lost their mother.

L I S T E N I N G T O : I spent the afternoon today at starbucks studying for the GRE while listening to mumford and sons/of monsters and men pandora radio. Kept me in the studying groove!

E A T I N G : Made a pizza tonight with some whole foods pizza dough! It's really nice to live so close to grocery stores... I was working with some trader joes dough that was probably a little too old and was filled with holes by the time I finished stretching it out, so I was able to give up on that mess and quickly go get some fresh dough to work with!

W I S H I N G : the tests in my backpack would grade themselves. I swear grading is the absolute worst part about teaching (apart from the behavior issues my first year!). That stack has been looming over me all weekend and I am so reluctant to face them.

H O P I N G : I will make it to the gym more than one time this week. I've been slacking off with my gym attendance which meant that one trip yesterday has left me 100% sore today.

N E E D I N G : a vacation getaway somewhere! We're headed to chicago for Thanksgiving this year with Peter's family, but I need a big trip somewhere else where it's just the two of us, ideally somewhere warm, although I wouldn't be picky. Maybe even just somewhere up north...

F O L L O W I N G : MissJordanKelley on instagram. Her feed is making me wish I could take a trip up north to Oregon sometime soon. So many fantastic fall shots. There is not a lot of changing of leaves/fall weather here in Berkeley but instagram has been transporting me to that place lately.

F E E L I N G : rested thanks to my extra hour of sleep!

W E A R I N G : my new down vest from uniqlo. I got the last push I needed to get it when 1. it was on sale this weekend 2. I've been eyeing it forever and 3. I lost my old puffer vest. I headed off to uniqlo early this morning to cross it off my to-do list.

B O O K M A R K I N G : these instructions for the next birthday I have to celebrate. Baking a great cake from scratch is on my long-term bucket list and the kitchn has put all the information I need in one place

L O V I N G : the feeling in the air at the moment. It's finally starting to feel like fall this week in berkeley (knock on every wooden surface ever.) I've been getting really sick of the warmer weather we've been having lately. My new classroom doesn't have AC and agh. it gets so sticky when there are 30 bodies packed in there. I've been checking the weather daily and praying for some good fall weather and it seems like that's finally coming true! Yay for cooler, seasonal weather!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fall Football

Last weekend Peter and I went out to see the Cal Bears play in a game against Washington State.

I am not the biggest fan of football, but this was actually surprisingly fun.

Last time we went to a game, it was late at night, lasted forever, and Cal lost - pretty badly. This time, everything was different. They've been doing pretty well due to an amazing quarterback (so I've heard), who is apparently a potential number one pick in the draft this year. The game did not last 4 hours this time, and it was during the day which is always ideal.

At the beginning of the day we headed to a t-shirt shop on Telegraph so that I could get a Cal t-shirt and feel spirited for the game. Then later we headed over just in time for the start of the game and had seats near the student section. As someone who did not attend a college with a big football team, this was really fun to be around. They have people to teach you the cheers and to tell you when to be loud and when to be quiet, which is helpful for a football noob like myself.

Some pictures from the game:

Monday, October 5, 2015

I'm so glad we live in a world with Octobers...


Sorry for the  l o n g  hiatus. School started and I was feeling swamped.

Now that it's October, I'm feeling a little less overwhelmed, which hopefully will translate to a little more blogging.

I have a lot of things coming up in the next two months that are causing me to get my act together, and with that I have a few short term goals I need to meet over the next month. Hopefully this will help hold me a little more accountable.

1. GRE studying! That's right - I signed up for my $195 (WHAT!) test today! I'm taking it next month and after a practice reading comprehension section today... I definitely have an area of focus. I'm feeling OK about the math section (which I feel is kind of a given since I teach the math that is on the exam), though I still can't get to comfortable. We'll see how it goes!

2. Go on a shopping freeze! I went on a diet and lot a bunch of weight over the last few months, and as a result I've gone a little shopping crazy. After treating myself to a new pair of jeans on Friday (and two new pairs of shoes) at Nordstrom Rack I'm finally calling the new wardrobe done... for now :) I'm going to see if I can hold off until after Christmas.

3. Improve my meal planning - I feel like I am constantly getting a quick bite out to eat because I don't have any food in the apartment and I am getting so sick of it! I need to get a lot better about buying food that I'll eat and actually putting the time into cooking it! I am a huge contributor to the food waste the EPA is so avidly trying to cut, and I need to put in my part to stop throwing out so many groceries! Such a waste!

4. Host a potluck - Peter and I went over to a friends house for a potluck on Saturday and had such a great time. Whenever we've done this in the past at our apartment, there a few too many people, we have such a hard time limiting down our numbers. But it seems like there is a sweet spot in terms of numbers to making potlucks work in a tiny apartment. This time around I want to aim for 10-12 people and I think we'll be good to go!

5. Become a pumpkin pie making master. Hopefully with an uptick in potlucks, I will not be the sole-eater of pie therefore undoing all the hard work I've done in the last month to lose a bunch of weight! However, every year around Thanksgiving I have a huge urge to be at home in New Jersey surrounded by my Aunt Maureen's delicious pie. So, for the last two Thanksgivings, where I've been in California, I've made up for that by making A TON OF PIE. I definitely need to work on my pie crust skills (who doesn't!), but I do want to mess around with the pumpkin pie this year to branch out from the back of the can :)

6. Have weekly fresh flowers around the apartment. This is something I'm always longing for, and I don't know why I never just purchase for myself. Fresh flowers make me so happy, and having a bunch on our dining room table will definitely make it feel a little more like fall in Berkeley

7. Wake up earlier - I've done this a few times in the last few weeks, where I wake up about an hour earlier and then can have a leisurely morning with tea and some bonus teacher planning time. I want to start doing this more regularly to get an early morning walk in before the rest of Berkeley wakes up.

I'll check back in with these at the end of the month and see how I do!