Friday, July 29, 2016

Deena from Shoes to Shiraz {Guest Post}

Hi Katie's people!!! I thrilled to be guest posting today on Mishaps and Mayhem and gotta say, I am very much looking forward to meeting Katie some day, she is a great blogging friend! I am super intrigued to learn more about Long Island and where Katie is fact, I have a Long Island cutting board sitting on my counter, courtesy of Katie. Some day I hope to visit her world.

My name is Deena and like Katie, I am a Catholic educator. I teach High School French and Christian Ethics in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a city of 225,000. I live in the middle of the prairies in a province whose population is only one million, but the size of our province is twice the size of Texas. We are blanketed in many feet of snow in our cold winters and in the summer we are surrounded by the golden fields of canola and purple fields of flax. Our skies reach from one horizon to the other. Saskatchewan is truly a beautiful place.
Why would I chose to live in a place smack dab in the middle of nowhere, where the temperature can range from +40 to -40? Where there are 4 seasons, but mostly winter? Where the biggest city (1 million +) is a 6 hour drive away? I get that it may not sound appealing, but to me it's more than that. It's my home. It is where the majority of my friends and family live. I would have a very hard time moving somewhere mainly for that fact: our parents are a short hourish drive away. My friends live within 20 minutes and soon one will live across the road! It would be so lonely without them. Who would have beer and clam with me on the deck? Who would go to movies with me? I was born and raised in Saskatchewan and I am proud to call this beautiful farming province home. It is where my Grandparents settled, farmed (somewhat) and raised their families. The highways are lined with the golden yellow fields of canola and purple flax in the summer. In the autumn, the patchwork quilt of land are lit up with golden hues. The winter can be beautiful too with the pastel shades and northern lights. This province, built on hard work and pioneering souls is a beautiful place to live. Saskatchewan has a total area of 651,900 square kilometres (251,700 sq mi). Just to help my American friends picture the size, Texas is 268,820 square miles (696,200 km2). So we're similar in size, but there's a huge difference, we have close to 1.2 million people. Texas? 26 million.                       I will always remember what Valerie, a friend from Belgium, living in Sask for a summer said on her visit. She was so amazed by the sky; she said she had never seen the sky so panoramic and so alive. That's one of the biggest draws to me: the space, the sky, the simple beauty. While I have lived in many places in my little life: Prince Albert, where I was born and raised, Montreal, where I did an exchange in high school, Regina and Quebec City, where I went to University, finally it is in Saskatoon where Dan and I decided to set up shop. I am proud to call Saskatoon my home. I love that Saskatoon is still a "big" city, by Sask standards, but still small city enough that it only takes me 30 minutes to drive across the city to bring Willis to school. And we live 10 minutes out of town. I am proud to be a Canadian Prairie Girl. I love that we're kinda in the middle of everywhere so we can visit coast to coast for travel. I love that I can have good shopping and great restaurants and that they are never crazy crowded. I love going away and visiting other cities and every single time I'm about to come home I get so excited to be back to the incredible skylines and fresh air of Saskatchewan. I love where I live. And really, the only way you could get me to move is by packing up my friends and family too. And the sky and the northern lights and the lakes and the geese and the moose and the snowdrifts and the sunsets. I think it's important to love where you live, don't you? What makes you proud of your home?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Foxy's Domestic Side {Guest Post}

Hello The Mishaps and Mayhem of a Solitary Life readers! Sarah from Foxy's Domestic Side here. I'm filling in for Katie while she's off gallivanting and having fun. I figured that since she was on vacation I would tell you about my favorite vacation.

I find that each vacation is my favorite for different reasons. Driving up and down the East Coast, Traveling Europe, Camping trips, but hands down my favorite vacation of all time was our Honeymoon. Mr. surprised me with our honeymoon, it was almost 3 weeks of the best vacation ever!
We didn't live together before we got married, so this was the first time that we were together 24/7 for an extended amount of time, our honeymoon was 18 days, and that's 16 more days together then we had ever previously done. And guess what, we didn't fight once and we were excited and wanted to spend even more time together after we got back. Match made in heaven right?

We flew into Tahiti and actually stayed in a hotel for about 8 hours before leaving to catch our plane to Moorea.

The next day we caught our plane to Moorea (about a 45 minute trip)...and yep that's our boarding pass, it's laminated and reusable...

The lobby at the Pearl Resort in Moorea

The pool area at this hotel, I happen to take the picture when they were doing water aerobics.

Yep that's the pool and then the ocean, cool right?
They decorated the place for us. Every night we got a new flower decoration.

We did a lot of snorkeling.

We took a day trip to swim with sting rays, sharks and turtles...
The reason I'm always wearing shirts in the pictures is because I am allergic to SPF, so I try to cover up when I can

Yep we actually took this picture, they set out a set of buoys with some rope between them, and then told the sharks to stay on that side of the rope...not even joking. I figured I could swim faster then the lady over there, so I was okay.

We took a bike ride and found the coolest ice cream cone. Double scoop...but it's side by side, crazy right? But totally makes sense if you ask me.

Onto the next part of the trip, Bora Bora!

Another plane, but this time it's a bigger plane, phew. It was about a 3 hour plane trip.

Bora Bora is made up of lots of little islands, the airport is on it's own island and then each hotel has it's own island too, so you take a boat everywhere. We stayed at another Pearl Resort.

The Lobby

We did a lot of laying out and reading...

We switched rooms after a few days to an over the water hut.

Outside the back door

Kayaking just outside of our hut...we went out to where the waves were breaking. This was on our way back, I wish we had gotten some pictures of where we went, it was pretty cool to see people surfing in what seemed like the middle of the ocean.

We went on a horseback riding tour, the owner, Olevia, gave us a great tour of Bora Bora too. Since our hotel was exactly on the opposite side of where we were going, he took us one way there, and the other way to complete the circle home. It was great.

That's where we were staying behind us

We did a lot of this too

We each had our own bucket of ice to put our drinks when we weren't drinking them, since it was so hot, our drinks would warm up in 2 seconds if we didn't

We figured we were on our honeymoon, let's take a helicopter ride too.

Not our hotel, this is the Four Seasons they were building and was to open, I think later that year
Back on another plane and back to the very first hotel we stayed at in Tahiti for 8 hours. This time we stayed for 3 days. The view from the lobby.

We went to this restaurant, and it was a super scary drive, but the view was worth it, too bad I didn't get a picture, darn.

Everyday they had feeding the sting rays, of course we're going to do that.

We also took surf lessons, super hard! I can't find the picture, and not even sure if we took one, boo!

If you want more pictures of the horseback riding, pictures of the inside of our rooms we stayed in, click here.

That is my favorite vacation hands down, but now that the kids are getting older I'm excited to see what adventures lay ahead.

So what is your favorite vacation?

Thanks Katie for having me! I hope you are having a fabulous time!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sips and Style in Alexandria, Virginia {Guest Post}

Hey Mishap readers!  My name is Whitney and I blog over at Whitney à la mode where I share my personal style as well as little snippets of my life as a French teacher in Michigan.  I'm so excited to be guest posting for Katie while she's on vacation.  As a fellow single gal who spends most of her time in a classroom, I feel like Katie and I are kindred spirits!

Amongst other things Katie and I have in common, I am also on vacation this week!  Well, kind of.  I used to live in the Washington D.C. area, specifically Alexandria, Virginia, and I am back there visiting friends and a few of my favorite haunts.

Since I post mostly about my personal style, today I thought I would share a few of my past outfits that are perfect for visiting hot and humid D.C. during the summer.  And since Katie is always up on the most delicious drinks of the season, I thought I would give you a few pointers as to where to find the best beverages in Old Town, Alexandria!


I know that I've already mentioned it, but summers in Washington D.C. are hot and sticky!  Did you know that D.C. was built on a swamp?  Since a trip to the capital will likely involve lots of activity and walking, I suggest cool and comfortable clothes.  Here are four different looks (one from each of my summers as a blogger) that would work for a D.C. vacation this time of year!  And my top suggestions are:
-A romper!  I was a little scared of rompers at first because I would consider my style to be more classic as opposed to trendy.  Now that I've found a few I love, I'm a total convert!  They can be just as comfy and flattering as a summer dress but you know what?  They prevent that chub rub between the thighs.  You ladies with the curves know what I'm talking about!  When the temperatures rise, it can get uncomfortable down there.  You don't have to worry about that with a romper!
-Comfy, flat shoes.  While touring the capital and surrounding areas, you never know what kind of terrain you will be walking on.  And you will be walking a lot.  I would maybe through in a pair of wedges for a night out but stick mostly with flats that you will be comfortable in all day!  Detailed sandals, ballet flats and a pair of Converse are my particular favorites.
-A denim vest.  I love a good layered look but you aren't going to want many layers in the heat.  A denim vest is a great way to add interest to an outfit without having to cover your arms.
-A day-to-night maxi.  You never know where your day in the city will take you.  I love a comfy maxi dress that works during the day but can be dressed up for the evening!  Check out that last post for the nighttime alternative to this look!


Now touring a big city like Washington D.C. can be a bit overwhelming.  If I could suggest one neighborhood for fun food, drinks and shopping, I would hands-down recommend Old Town, Alexandria!  In fact, I chose to live only five minutes from Old Town and it's where I spent most of my free time.  Here are my suggestions for beverages (and food) in Old Town!

Grape and Bean was my all-time favorite place to be while living in Alexandria.  Like the name implies, they are known for their wine and coffee!  I'm also a sucker for their delicious cheese plates and seasonal salads.  The staff at Grape and Bean are always warm and welcoming and I can't wait to see them again!

Virtue Feed & Grain is a great place for brunch or happy hour!  I personally would recommend a delicious Bloody Mary for brunch.  My friends tell me that they've taken their delicious nachos off of their menu but I'm already excited to try some new items during happy hour!

Pizza Paradiso is the place for you if you love delicious pizza and an extensive beer list.  My personal favorite is an Insalata Mista followed by the Atomica pizza! 

So, if you happen to be in Old Town this week, maybe I'll see you at one of my favorite watering holes.  And if you are planning a trip soon, I hope you'll consider my recommendations.

Please stop by to see me at Whitney à la mode!

Thanks, Katie for hosting me here today and I hope that you are enjoying your vacation!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Packing Ideas: Simple White Looks {Guest Post}

weekend getaway outfit ideas
1. V-Neck Tee: H&M // 2. Necklace: H&M (Only $8) // 3. Top: H&M (Only $15) 4. Denim Jacket: H&M // 5. Skirt: H&M // 6. Jeans: H&M ($10) 7. Leopard Clutch: Clare V (Similar here, here, here) // 8. Ring: gorjana 9. Lace Up Flats: Halogen ($30 off) // 10. Lipstick Set: Bobbi Brown ($30 off) // 11. Sandal: Steve Madden (Under $100)

 Hi! I am Lisa, and I blog over at Daily Style Finds.  I am so happy Katie asked me to guest blog today.  I met Katie through our collaborative blog (and group of friends) called The Blended Blog. Today, I thought I would show some outfits you could easily put together with some basic staples - like white jeans, white tee, and denim jacket - that would be perfect for a weekend getaway.  I am one of those people that always struggles with how much and what to pack when I go on vacation.  I have found that if I stick to a specific color theme - like white in this case - it makes things a lot easier.  For a few more ideas of what wear with white - you can check out this post I did which shows how to mix camo, grey and white. Also, I put together this 12 outfit packing guide. You can follow along with me on Instagram to see some of my outfit ideas.
 Have a great day!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Little Free Libraries with Leslie {Guest Post}

Hi new friends! Leslie here from over at Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After. Don't worry, this IS Katie's blog but that lucky duck has gone on vacation. She asked a few of her blogger buddies to guest post while she is soaking up the sun in Punta Cana. Can't wait to see her pics and read all about her vacay adventures. I know she will have a fabulous time. I met Katie through the "Get Your Pretty On" (GYPO) style challenges that we both participated in. We are both librarians, although I could easily be Katie's mom or possibly even her grandmother. Yikes! Of the hundreds of gals who participated in GYPO, Katie was one of my favorites with her winning smile and great style sense. And, of course, there's the library thing... So, today I am going to talk libraries with you; to be exact, Little Free Libraries. Have you heard of them? Maybe you've seen one in a park or outside of a public library building near you? They are usually small, wooden boxes of books where people are invited to take a book or bring a book to share with others.

Little Free Library

The first Little Free Library (LFL) was the brain child of Todd Bol. In 2009, he built a wooden box painted like a one room school house to honor his mother, a teacher who loved to read.  The LFL was so popular among Bol's friends and family, that he built a few more and gave them away. And the rest, as they say, is history. You can read more on the official Little Free Library website, here.

Fast forward to Zavala Elementary School, El Paso, Texas, fall 2011. My fellow elementary school librarian and sweet friend Lisa Lopez Williamson introduced the first LFL in the state of Texas.
Little Free Library

Lisa spoke about to our school district librarians about the success of the Zavala LFL and I was bitten by the bug. The demographics of the students at her school were very similar to those of my babies at H.R. Moye. Largely bilingual kids who spoke English as a second language. Living in low socio-economic circumstances where literacy and library usage are not always a priority.
When I contacted her for more information later that fall, Lisa offered to sponsor a Little Free Library for Moye. I met with her at the University of Texas, El Paso to complete the LFL stewardship paperwork and pick up my our library.
Little Free Library
I was so excited to bring this opportunity to my sweet students. Our LFL was created from a cranberry crate. The white sign across the top of the crate is the official charter for this particular library. Each Little Free Library is registered with LFL , given an official charter sign and charter number. By registering, stewards of each LFL gain access to a network of benefits and are allowed to use the name Little Free Library.

Next, I introduced the LFL to my students. It was love at first sight. They were excited to learn that our library would be the second LFL in El Paso and in the state of Texas.
Little Free Library
I invited the third, fourth and fifth graders to create posters explaining the "take a book, leave a book" idea behind our LFL.
Little Free Library
They did a fabulous job. And the posters created a buzz of excitement for our library.

Finally, it was time to put the library to use. I bought a little iron table for the LFL at Hobby Lobby. Then added a yard gnome who had always served as one of our shelf elves as created in the books by Jackie Hopkins.
Little Free Library
Little Free Library
And with that, the H.R. Moye Elementary School Little Free Library was open for business.
Little Free Library
I moved the LFL out into the main lobby of the school so parents and our whole school community could easily access it.

I retired from Moye two years later but the Little Free Library is still there providing books to children who might not otherwise have a book they can call their own.
Lisa Lopez Williamson continues to do wonderful work spreading the word about Little Free Libraries here in El Paso and across the entire southwest. The El Paso Community Foundation has recently funded a grant that will enable Lisa to bring LFLs to other parts of the city. The education department at the University of Texas, El Paso, is in line to receive one as well as another elementary school near Moye on the northeast side of town.

If you are interested in learning more or perhaps even purchasing a Little Free Library for a business, school or neighborhood near you, please follow this link for information. Katie and I will be teaming up in a few weeks for a blog post about the books on our summer reading shelves. Would be honored to have you stop by my blog for our Summer Book Shelf posts, the first one is here.

Thank you for sharing a bit of your day with me. Have a wonderful week and be sure to stop by again tomorrow to meet another of our mutual friends and to read her guest post.
Hugs and kisses,