My Summer 2016 Reading List

Hello! Summer is officially here and you know what that means right? SUMMER READING! Okay, yes, summer also means deliciously hot days on the beach, barbecuing it up with family and friends, and eating lots of ice cream. But let’s be honest, summer also means that the days are longer, which in my book (ha!) means that there is a LOT more time to read! 

To compile my own summer reading list, I drew titles from my own long “to-read” list as well as book club lists at the local library***.  Enjoy!

  1. imgres-1.jpgThe House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

Surprisingly enough, my interest in this book was sparked by a Netflix veg sash back a few months ago.  After perusing through about a million movies, this particular title caught my eye, and when I saw that it starred my girl, Meryl Streep, circa 1993, I was in.  Set in South America, the film/book tells the story of a young rancher, Esteban, and his psychic wife, Clara.   While I remember finding the movie a little odd (sorry Meryl), I was intrigued enough by the plot to give the book version a try.  I mean, books are ALWAYS better then their film adaptations, so I’m really hoping to enjoy this one!

2. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquezimgres-3.jpg

I am so so looking forward to diving into this book.  It tells the story of the Rivera family, who move to the United States from Mexico to seek care for their teenaged daughter, Maribel, after she suffers a terrible accident. 

3. The Children Act by Ian McEwan

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I found this title on last year’s book club list at my local library, and the title drew me in.  This novel follows Fiona Maye, a successful High Court Judge who throws herself into a complex case after being left by her husband. 

4. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marraimgres-5

This novel is my book club’s selection for July, and I am so looking forward to reading it.  Set in Chechnya, a federal subject of Russia, eight-year-old Havaa bears witness to the kidnapping of her father and the burning of her home at the hands of Russian soldiers.  Havaa’s neighbor, Akhmed, discovers the girl and brings her to an abandoned hospital in the hope that they can seek shelter there.  However the one remaining doctor in the hospital, Sonja Rabina, is not pleased at the prospect of two additional people to care for.  I’m anticipating crying a lot while reading this, basically.

5. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amorusoimgres-6

While I love a good novel, I’m trying to be better about incorporating more nonfiction into my reading, keeping my brain fresh and whatnot.  Anyway, this kickass sounding book, written by the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal, gives young women practical, honest, and meaningful advice about finding a passion and doing good work.  A sneak peek of said advice reads, “Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t let The Man get to you. OK? Cool. Then let’s do this.” I’m in love already.

6. Looking For Alaska by John Green41r-sKjJ61L

Seeing as I am a brand new English teacher, I thought it would be fun to include a young adult novel on the list.  I loved and hated ( I cry REALLY easily) The Fault in Our Stars, and I’m looking forward to checking out another work by Green.  This one focus on Pudge, a young man who meets the mesmerizing Alaska Young when he enrolls at Culver Creek Boarding School.  Angsty teen romance? Stay tuned.

7. Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Letheimgres-8

This American novel spans three generations to tell the story of Rose Zimmer and her daughter, Miriam.  Both women are passionate activists who wield particular power over the men in their lives.  I am extremely intrigued by this novel, and am deeply curious to see how it reflects and remarks upon our culture.

8. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ngimgres-9

This book has been on my list for awhile now, and a recent conversation with a friend about it inspired me to add it here.  When the daughter of Chinese American family turns up dead in a nearby lake, chaos ensues.  My friend, while as of this writing has not finished this book, is enjoying it so far, and I trust her literary opinions greatly!  I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this one either…I mean, who can pass up a good murder mystery?

imgres9. Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons

This book was first recommended to me by my mentor teacher during my student teaching practicum.  While I never got around to reading the copy she kindly lent me, I am deeply interested in this book and want to tackle it this summer.  As both a woman and a teacher (not to mention possible future mother), I hope to gain some insight as to why girls exhibit infamous “mean girl” bullying behavior, as well as learn how we as a society can help break this pattern for our girls. 

10. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel Brownimgres-2

Another work of nonfiction, this book was first mentioned to me by T’s mother if memory serves me correctly.  This gorgeous sounding work tells the story of an American rowing team who defied staggering odds in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin.  While I don’t know much else about this book, it comes highly recommended, and I can’t wait to dive in myself!

Have you read any of these titles? What did you think? What are you all reading? I’d love to hear 🙂 Until next time!

*** Please note, all book summaries were fact-checked on GoodReads, and written in my own words.  All book images were taken from Google Image searches.

Lately + Power Kale Bowl

Hello! I KNOW I’ve been away for awhile, and I am so sorry for my absence.  Life got a little crazy over the past month or two, and I decided to take a break from this space so I could focus on other (mostly awesome) things that were happening in my life.  Now that the dust has settled a bit and I can finally breathe,  I am so happy to dive back into ‘have heart’ with a renewed sense of energy.  Which brings me to a few announcements that I am SO HAPPY to share with you!

First up…I am OFFICIALLY a licensed teacher and survivor of graduate school.  I have to say, it feels damn good to see my teaching license number pop up on my education profile page, and I cannot wait to frame my diploma!

Secondly, I’ll be putting said license and diploma to good use in my very own classroom! I am so so relieved and excited to announce that I will be teaching 5th grade English Language Arts this fall.  I admit, I’m feeling a little nervous about this next step in my career, but I am already in love with my new school and cannot wait to meet all of my new students. Wish me luck!

And lastly…you might recall from this post that T and I are moving.  Well, long story short, that post was written a bit prematurely, and we ended up losing that particular apartment to another applicant (Boston real estate is a cut throat monster basically).  As disappointed as we were initially, our loss turned into luck, and we were able to find a gorgeous little condo that we absolutely fell in love with.  We’ve crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s, and this time our move is offish.  The twist?  Our new place is in Nashua, NH (read: NOT Boston).  While a part of me is a wee bit heart broken about leaving the city, I’m feeling overall really really good about the move, and I’m looking forward to exploring and settling into a new place with T. Oh, and we’re allowed to have dogs there, so stay tuned for my adoption of 1,000 puppies.

That pretty much sums up all of the big news around here.  It feels so good to be back, and I’m looking forward to getting back into my flow here at ‘have heart’ and reconnect with the blogging world.

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s get to the good stuff…lunch.  When summer arrives and the days grow hot, I tend to stick to cold salads for lunch.  They’re just so easy, and can be pretty refreshing on humid days.  However, they can also get a little boring, which never makes for a satisfying meal.  In the spirit of spicing up my favorite summer lunch meal, I fooled around in the kitchen a bit to come up with this little number: The Kale Power Bowl.  It does require a bit more prep work to make, so I suggest planning ahead the night before if you want to pack this bad boy for lunch.

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Power Kale Bowl

Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil, 1/2- 1 TBSP
  • Yellow onion, 1/2 c. diced
  • Mushrooms, 3-4 diced
  • Broccoli, roughly 7 spears
  • Lentils, 1/2 c. dry
  • Firm tofu, 1/5 block
  • Roma tomato, diced
  • Kale, 5 leaves roughly chopped
  • Parsley, 1 small handful chopped
  • Avocado, 1/4 diced
  • Balsamic vinegar, roughly 1 TBSP
  • Olive oil, roughly 1/2 tsp
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder

Method:

1. Cook the lentils according to package instructions. Set aside.

2. While the lentils are cooking,  warm the coconut oil in a pan on medium heat.  Add the diced onion, mushrooms, and broccoli, along with salt and pepper to taste.  Sauté for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.

3. In the meantime, dice your chunk of tofu on a cutting board.  Then, with a fork, mash the cubes of tofu flat in order to “scramble” it.  Add the scrambled tofu to the pan, and add a dash more salt, pepper, as well as garlic powder.  Sauté on medium heat until tofu is warmed through and has started to brown.

4. While your lentils and scramble are cooking, prepare the salad bed.  In a large bowl, toss the kale and parsley until mixed.  Add the diced avocado, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar to the greens.  Gently massage the “dressing” into the leaves, until the avocado has mashed and the vinegar and oil are spread evenly.

5. Top your salad bed with the scramble, lentils, and raw diced veggies of your choosing.  I opted for tomatoes and marinated olives, but the beauty of this dish is that you can get playful with your veggies!

This recipe is very relaxed.  When I was assembling this salad, I didn’t really measure anything, and sort of tossed ingredients together in the hope that they tasted good.  I can personally attest that this particular combination was filling and delicious, but I encourage you to experiment with your own combinations!  And, please do share them if you try this dish out 🙂

Until next time!

Hello, May (and Way of Gray)

I might be a day late, but I still cannot believe that May is already here! I’m still waiting for Mother Nature to bestow sunny days and May flowers on Boston, but the promise of summer creeping ever closer is pulling me through!

Before I introduce my new goal for this month, I need to come clean about my April goal.  To be brief, I flopped.  I’m not entirely sure why, but I had a really hard time remembering to drink water regularly throughout the day, and I found myself often realizing around dinnertime that I’d barely drunk any all day.  Needless to say, I’m a little bummed with myself for being so flaky with my goal; however, this month did help me realize that gallon or not, I do not drink nearly enough water.  Moving forward, I aim to be better about this habit in general, and will reach for it more often then I have.

That being said, I am so excited and READY for my May goal: to work up a sweat a minimum of five days a week.  I’ve been making it a point recently to wake up early a few mornings a week to get a workout in, but this month I want to focus on upping the ante when it comes to physical fitness.  Since my current schedule leaves precious little time for me to get to the gym, I decided to find an alternative workout program that I could do at home with nothing else but myself and a yoga mat.

My mind immediately jumped to Sophie Gray, a personal trainer and nutritionist.  I currently own two of her HIIT programs (which are crazy hard and sadly no longer available on her site), but I decided to check out her page to see if she had any new offerings.  After perusing her site, I decided to purchase her new  Love Yourself* program, which is available via eBook complete with video links to each workout.  The program has a convenient schedule of 4 workouts/wk, which stretch across the span of 3 months.  While the initial week or two look to be on the easier side, the intensity of the sessions increases throughout the program, which I am so looking forward to.  I’ve been a huge fan of Sophie’s HIIT routines in the past, and I’m excited to dive into her new program to see what it has to offer!

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image here

In addition to my four mornings of HIIT, I want to incorporate running, yoga, and weight-lifting workouts into my 5th day each week, mostly to prevent myself from getting too bored.  By the end of this month, I hope to feel stronger, leaner, and more passionate about fitness.  And hey, it wouldn’t hurt to feel more confident in summer clothes, right?

What have you been doing to get your body moving? I’d love to hear 🙂

My Morning Routine

For reasons unknown, I have always loved waking up early in the morning.  There’s something so satisfying about greeting the day when most of the world is still asleep, and knowing that I have a good chunk of time to myself before I leave the apartment.  Over the past few months, I’ve been establishing a morning routine that pushes me to use that extra time to get myself ready to tackle the rest of my day. Full disclaimer:  I don’t have it down to an exact science, and it definitely doesn’t happen every day.  However, on the mornings that I do rise and grind, I’ve noticed that for the rest of the day I’m more productive, have more energy, and feel genuinely much happier.  What’s not to love about that?

198081-Good-Morning-Let-s-Get-The-Day-Started.jpg
image credit

I’ve really been loving this routine, and I do think that the early wake-up call is 100% worth it.  And so, without further ado, here she is:

1) 4:00~4:15 AM: Wake up and drink a glass of water!  I’m always thirsty when I wake up, and I find a cold glass of water perks me right up first thing in the morning.  PS- I KNOW that this is incredibly early, but since I need to be out of the house by 6:30 AM to be at work on time, there’s no other way around this wakeup time if I want a couple hours to myself at the beginning of the day.

2) 4:15-4:20:  Water in hand, I like to head straight to my desk and jot down something that I’m grateful for or looking forward to in my gratitude journal.  This small act takes all of five minutes, and truly helps set a positive tone for the rest of my day.

3) 4:20-4:30: Write my to-do list in my Erin Condren planner.  Even though I often add more items to this list as the day goes on, I feel more prepared to tackle the day if I have a rough roadmap of what I need to accomplish beforehand.

4) 4:30~5:15ish: Sweat session.  Since most of my afternoons are jam packed with class, homework, or errands and chores, if I want to work out, it needs to happen in the morning.  I’ve recently been LOVING this HIIT (high intensity interval training) program from Way of Gray.  I will not lie…they’re hard, but I always feel amazing afterwards.

5) 5:15-6:15: Shower, get dressed, apply makeup, etc.  I try to squeeze in another glass or two of water during this “get ready” time.

6) 6:15-6:30: Make coffee, a green smoothie, pack my lunch, and GO!

What does your morning routine look like? Any tips to make waking up easier? I’d love to hear!

Happy Things

Hello! It’s been a little over a week since my last post (sorry!)  My school district had our April vacation last week, and to be honest I just needed the time to unplug.  I tackled no to-do lists, slept in, hosted a clothing swap with some girlfriends , and caught up on a few shows I’ve been neglecting (read: I feel bad making T watch them with me).  My staycation was relaxing and glorious, and left me feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the end of my LAST SEMESTER OF GRADUATE SCHOOL!!!

I do have a couple of fun posts coming up later this week, but in the meantime, here are some things that have brought a smile to my face lately.

celtics
{nearly court-side at the Celtics game}
maddie
{maddie cat being snuggly}

Luckily, April vacation kicked off with a Red Sox game on Marathon Monday! It was so fun to be in the middle of all the excitement on one of the first truly beautiful spring days here in Boston.

fenway
{fenway!}
grading
{grading papers in the sun}
margz
{a marg for me, a marg for you}
cheese board
{cheeseboard: complete with options for vegans and vegetarians (and cheese-loving omnivores)}
clothes swap
{swappin}

I’m happy to say that the clothes swap was a success! I scored some really great pieces, made a ton of room in my closet, and was still able to donate some good quality items that no one wanted by the end of the night.  Win-win-win!

What have you been up to lately? I’d love to hear!

Daily Do’s

When it comes to doing my hair every morning, the word that comes to mind is…simple.  I’ve been growing my hair out for a little over a half a year now, and between its length, getting used to my bangs again,  and my lack of sophisticated hair styling skills, my go-to do’s are usually very low key.  And let’s be real, I’m around 6th graders all day, and they could care less what I look like anyhow.

That being said, I do want to look professional and stylish (read: look like I’m ‘adulting’) while I’m at work, going out with friends, or having a date night with T.  Here are my go-to styles for when I want to look put together, without investing too much time getting ready.

1) Low, messy pony:  Okay, I know I’m hardly break new ground here, but this hairstyle is one of my favorites for days when I know I’ll be running around.  I don’t like how my hair looks tied back in a ponytail if it’s in its natural state, so I usually whisk my straightener over the top layer of my hair before tying it back for a smoother effect.

front pony
{front; cheesin}

side pony

2) Sleek half-up half-down: I’m not entirely crazy with how my hair looks completely down after straightening it, so I usually tie half of it back to add a little volume.  This do takes about 10 minutes to throw together, which is ideal on mornings when I’m running a tad late!

straight hair

3) Top Knot: This is by far one of my favorite hairstyles.  I have some layers in my hair right now that make it difficult to wrestle it into a bun, so this look works best on me when I’m between shampoos and my hair has a bit of product in it.

bun front
{front}
bun side
{side}

4) Curly with pinned back pieces: This do requires more of a time investment, but it does the trick on days when I want to look a little more polished.  To style, I wrap small sections of my hair around the barrel of a 1″ curling iron in alternating directions around my whole head.  Then, I grab two same-ish sized pieces from the front of my hair, loosely twist them once, and pin them to the side of my head.  The curls make this look feel a little more elevated, while pinning back the front pieces keeps my hair out of my face while I’m running around my classroom all day.

curly pinned

5) Curly: This look is my overall favorite, but as its the most time consuming, I usually reserve it for date nights or dressier occasions.

curly down

What are your favorite hairstyles? I’d love to hear!

Think of Brighter Days: Girls Weekend in NoHo!!!

We all know how much I love a good girls’ weekend, and this past one was no exception!  A few months ago Barefoot Truth, a band my girlfriends and I have loved since college, announced that they were playing a one-night-only reunion show in Northampton.  Naturally, we took advantage of the show and planned a reminiscent weekend getaway in our old stomping grounds so that we could attend the concert, catch up with each other’s lives, and eat embarrassing amounts of food.  Win, win, win.

We stayed in the best air bnb, went for a morning hike, grubbed out on some tapas, and jammed out to Barefoot Truth’s show (which was incredible per usual, despite a fire alarm delay!)  I was terrible at taking pictures throughout the weekend, and some of these are stolen from my girlfriends, but they’ll just have to do!

trail
trail blazin
silly
gotta have a silly one
nice
selfie stick city
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a tamer trail
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view from the top of mt. sugarloaf
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proud hikers
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jammin

What did you do this weekend? I’d love to hear!