photographing, cooking, laughing through life


Book Review – Lovestruck in London by Rachel Schurig


I finished reading “Panic” by Lauren Oliver while flying from Nashville to Dallas…with my other “book book” stuck up in the overhead compartment, I searched for a new book to read on my nook. Each day I get my recommendations for cheap and free books, and recenty “Lovestruck in London” was on that list. As I was scrolling through the books on my nook, this one stuck out to me…so I thought I’d give this one a shot.

The story is a “fish out of water” tale of Lizzie Medina, a Detroit native who takes a year off for post-graduate work in London before becoming a teacher like the rest of her family.  Lizzie has always wanted to live in London, and jumps at the chance to reinvent herself away from her loving, but overly involved, family.  After spending her first week in London stuck in a classroom, Lizzie and her best friend Callie go for a night at the theater…where Lizzie meets up and coming actor Thomas Harper – a chance meeting that sends them both head over heels in love. When Thomas’ most recent movie skyrockets him to fame, will the two be able to handle all of the stress and attention that comes with stardom?

Now, if you are looking for a challenging, intellectual read….keep looking, but this was just what I was in search of – a fun, quick, chick-lit read that I could just enjoy.  I enjoyed the characters – Lizzie, Thomas, Callie, Charlie…all were unique and fun.  I loved the London setting and it makes me want to visit England even more. While not every piece of information was probably fully accurate…who cares – it was a fun read.  There is a second novel in the series called Lovestruck in LA that I just might have to check out.

“Lovestruck in London” by Rachel Schurig 4/5 stars

Book Review – Panic by Lauren Oliver


One thing that I need to make more time for during my hectic fall semester is reading for pleasure. I get so wrapped up in all of the “stuff” that I have to do, that I forget that I need to take time to do some of the things that I really enjoy. I recently went on a conference trip to Nashville, TN, I took advantage of the “free time” on the flight to read a book I’d picked up from the school library.

I’ve read several Lauren Oliver books including her “Delirium” trilogy and “Before I Fall” so I am familiar with her style of writing.  Her most recent novel, “Panic” tells the story of graduated seniors in Carp who participate in a game called Panic.  Each day of high school every student is required to put $1 into the Panic “pot” – at the end of the year, the graduating seniors can choose to participate in the ever-dangerous games on their way to taking home the winnings.  The games are both traditionally terrifying as well as individually focused to get students to drop out of the games.

The story is told from two perspectives: Heather, a girl who is trapped in a life where her mother abuses drugs and constantly brings new men into her and her sister’s lives, is participating in Panic to get a better live and Dodge, a boy who knows firsthand the terrible aftermath of a Panic game gone wrong, who is participating in Panic to get revenge.

For those familiar with Oliver’s writing, I found this one to be much weaker than her other works.  It was totally predictable and also totally unbelievable.  I had high hopes when I picked this one off the shelf, but was left with a less than satisfied read in the end.

“Panic” by Lauren Oliver 2.5/5 stars.

Where I’ve Been…

So, it’s been awhile since my last blog post. The life of a teacher, coach, photographer, sponsor, organist, etc. has gotten in the way lately. I figured that while my students in digital journalism were blogging, I would go ahead and blog too!

This year my classes have changed dramatically. I’m still teaching all of the classes I taught last year – yearbook, newspaper, digital journalism, digital photography and 21st Century Media, but now I’ve added Computer Graphic Design, Introduction to Video and the Video Production classes to the mix.

With the addition of the classes (and no addition to the school hours) I’m teaching a few classes during some of my blocks. For example, my newspaper and video production classes meet during the same block. While sometimes this can be difficult, I’ve decided to turn this “negative” into a positive…and help my students become more prepared for the real world of journalism in the process.

Check out our first class production – with MANY more to come.

Sonic Summer of Slush #15-25…

I’ve been slacking on my slush reviews over the past month or so (with vacation, I got out of the routine of posting). However, I have not been slacking on my plan to try and review all of the slushes from Sonic’s Summer of Slush. Today, I tried my last slush…and I figured, I better get you all up to date on my slush reviews!

Summer of Slush #15 – Cherry: This is one of the flavors of slush I used to get ALL the time when I was little.  It’s one of those standard slush flavors, plus you get a special “bonus” with the cherry on top.  I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, I want more from the cherry slush, so I usually opt for something different.  However, it’s still pretty good.  Rating: 3/5 Sonic straws

Summer of Slush #16 – Lemon Berry: Traditionally I rotate between either a Lemon or Lemon Berry slush when I’m not trying out all 24 flavors…and now I’ll add Lime to the mix.  I really prefer the fresh fruit slushes to the other ones.  This will continue to be a favorite for a long time to come! Rating: 5/5 Sonic straws

Summer of Slush #17 – Grape: I started the summer by trying out the Grape Nerds slush – Grape was my absolute favorite as a little kid, and the Nerds really added to it.  I found that I actually missed the nerds, but overall the grape was still good.  Not sure if I like grape for the flavor so much as I like it for the color!! Go Cats! Rating: 4/5 Sonic straws

Summer of Slush #18 – Powerade Mountain Blast: I’ve never really been a huge Powerade fan – I prefer Gatorade and I wasn’t really sure what Mountain Blast was supposed to taste like – turns out it tastes “fruity” – it was actually pretty refreshing – although kind of generic in its flavor (Maybe it was so refreshing because I was so thirsty that day).  This is probably one I won’t have again.  It was just okay. Rating 2.5/5 Sonic straws

Summer of Slush #19 – Green Apple Nerd: I surprised myself by actually somewhat liking the Green Apple slush. Traditionally I don’t like apple juice (and, obviously the slush is more like a green apple jolly rancher).  However, I can’t really say the same for the Nerd version.  I don’t know if the person who was putting in the Nerds got a little heavy handed, but there were WAY TOO MANY nerds in this slush – the bottom was caked with them – and it really made the flavor change dramatically.  I wasn’t much of a fan. Rating: 2/5 Sonic straws

Summer of Slush #20 – Sour Blue Raspberry: Now, I had the exact opposite opinion of the Nerd Blue Raspberry and the Sour Blue Raspberry.  I think because the Nerd version of this slush is not “sour” I was much more of a fan of the Nerd one than the non-Nerd one.  Sour and I do not mix…why would you want to do that to your taste buds?! Rating: 1/5 Sonic straws

Summer of Slush #21 – Watermelon: I had been putting this one off because I’m not a huge watermelon fan. So, with trepidation, I ordered the watermelon slush (in a small in case I hated it). I was super surprised that I actually kind of liked it! My biggest problem with watermelon is the texture of the actual watermelon – so this had the flavor without the texture.  It was sweeter than I anticipated.  Not my favorite, but better than I was expecting by far! Rating: 2.5/5 Sonic straws

Summer of Slush #22 – Strawberry: My final slush of the fresh fruit slushes, the strawberry, is one that I’ve had before also.  It doesn’t have the tang of the Lemon Berry and this makes it feel like it’s missing something. It’s pretty good, but not “amazing.” If you are a strawberry lover, this would be a good option – keep in mind you’ll probably be sucking large strawberry pieces through the straw… Rating: 3.5/5 Sonic straws

Summer of Slush #23 – Cherry Nerd: When I went to get my green apple slush, a couple of my students came up to my car while I was waiting.  One of them had a Cherry Nerd slush and she told me to try it…oh my goodness it was SOUR!!!!! I thought maybe they had made a mistake with her’s, so I ordered mine and when I took my first sip it was also super sour. I opened up the slush and it didn’t seem to be mixed very well.  Once I mixed it, it was MUCH better.  Rating: As made 0/5 Sonic straws….After I mixed 3/5 Sonic straws

Summer of Slush #24 – Watermelon Nerd: No…just no…I did not like this combo AT ALL.  I’m so glad I ordered a small.  Rating: 0/5 Sonic straws

Summer of Slus #25 – Banana Taffy: So, I finally got to the end of the list…I had been “saving” this one until the end because it did not sound appealing to me at all. I like bananas, but I don’t like “fake banana” taste.  It’s not something I think of when I think about a kind of drink I want – who wants banana juice? Now, a banana smoothie, okay… So, I got a small and when the car-hop brought it out – he assured me it was one of his favorites… I tried it and found that the banana flavor wasn’t overpowering, but it also wasn’t something I really liked.  I can see how maybe a little kid might like it, but it wasn’t a winner for me. Rating: 1/5 Sonic straws.

This summer challenge was interesting for me. I found some new kinds of slushes that I really did like – and some that I will never have to try again.  It was a fun challenge that got me out of my comfort zone…which I don’t do that often when it comes to my slush choices.  I will say, the last two times I went to get a slush they didn’t have the traditional red Sonic straws at my local Sonic, which, I think, detracted from the slush experience!

Thanks for following my Sonic slush journey!

Road Trip Here We Come

I’m super excited about our upcoming road trip to Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota.  First of all, I’ve always wanted to see Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, etc. Secondly, I love getting to experience new things – and I’m excited that my 7 year old niece, Rebecca, is going too.

I got to thinking that we are going to be in the car for quite awhile…so I decided to put together a travel notebook for her to do in the car – and she can also use it as a place to keep track of all of the adventures she has (she hasn’t started a blog…yet).

So, I got a hot pink notebook from the store and some sheet protectors…and got to work!



My first project involved putting together a BINGO card for her to try to accomplish during the trip.  My sister gave me the idea because Rebecca got a bingo card the other day that had reading activities on it and she loved it.  The activities I decided to include on the card varied from different activities to keep her busy in the car, at the hotel and enjoying the different places we will stop.  I really hope she has fun with it!!!


I took to Pinterest for some ideas and stumbled upon a car scavenger hunt (not pictured) and a license plate sheet for her to keep track of the different license plates we see.


We are going to be traveling through 8 states, and I found these awesome state activity sheets on – the site requires you to register, but you get several downloads free each month. Each time we cross the state line, she’ll get to do a new state sheet! Kansas will obviously be first!


I also found tons of other activities that she can do in random places online. She really likes word puzzles, math, decoding games and color by numbers, so those are ones I printed off.  Each category of activities gets its own sheet protector – so all 6 crosswords are in on sheet protector and so on.  Activities I found were: Mad Libs, Word Searches, Crossword Puzzles, Decoding Activities, Color by Number, Word Scrambles and Mazes.


I also printed off some A-Z Brainstorming sheets.  This is actually something that my high school students do for review, but I thought we could modify it for the trip.  A lot of times we do the alphabet game when we are driving (choosing a topic like “Frozen”) and then we go around the circle and say different words that go with that topic in ABC order. So, using the “Frozen” example we’d say “Anna, Building a Snowman, Coronation, Duke of Weselton, Elsa, etc.) I’m going to change it up a little and we’ll try to come up with as many as we can, writing them down, instead.


I thought it would be good for her to do something having to do with the destination, so I went to the National Parks website and found the Junior Ranger Gazette which will teach her a little about the National Parks we will visit before we get there.


Also in the notebook, I added some blank writing paper, so she can write a little summary of each day – and we’ll make it into a journal, with drawn pictures, tickets, and photos of the places we visit. I am putting all of this in a tote for her with markers, colored pencils, regular pencils, crayons and a pencil sharpener – so she should be all set.

I really, really hope she has fun with it – and I can’t wait to leave for vacation!!!


Book Review: Page by Paige, by Laura Lee Gulledge


The summer reading program at our local library encourages readers to try different kinds of books – one of the genres on the list was a graphic novel.  I have never really read a graphic novel before, but I got a recommendation from my mom that this one was really good, so, I chose “Page by Paige,” by Laura Lee Gulledge as my graphic novel.

First of all, the story centers around Paige Turner (her parents are writers – which is why she has her unique name). Paige and her family have moved from Charlottesville, Virginia to Brooklyn during the Christmas break.  Paige must adjust to a new school, a new town and the intimidation of making new friends.  Paige chooses to write about her struggles, hopes and fears in her sketchbook – which is what the graphic novel essentially is – Paige’s sketchbook.

The story was a typical YA story about a high school girl navigating the perils of high school life with the added struggle of dealing with being the “new girl.” While the story was typical, the drawings were awesome! I was amazed at just how fabulous and intricate the drawings were.  I am so jealous of people that are so gifted in drawing (it is a skill that I never mastered).  As a reader, it gives you so much more to work through than a typical novel or short story. I really, really enjoyed the experience – I think partially because I enjoyed the topic. I’m hoping to looking into Gulledge and see if she has any more to read!

Book Reviews: “Page by Paige,” by Laura Lee Gulledge 4/5 stars.

Turkey, Provolone, Avocado Wrap

I had a student whose mom used to always make wraps for her lunch on Wednesdays – we always joked that it was “Wrap Wednesday” – so today I decided to try a wrap I’d seen on Pinterest.  It’s one that I will definitely be taking to school for lunches this year.

Ingredients you need:


  • Tortilla (I chose low-carb wheat)
  • Sliced Turkey (I went with the smoked)
  • Provolone Cheese (2 slices)
  • Garlic & Herb Laughing Cow cheese
  • Fresh Spinach
  • Red Pepper
  • Avocado

1. Spread the Laughing Cow cheese over a tortilla.


2. Layer the spinach and turkey.


3. Layer the cheese, red pepper strips and 1/4 of an avocado (sliced)


4. Roll up the wrap and slice into approximately inch and a half pieces.


This was a fantastic light supper – I had it with a delicious mango I picked up at the grocery store on my way home. I love summer!



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