Jan 31, 2012

On pants {WIW}...

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about “How to Dress like a Teacher.” I had an overwhelming response to this post and many of you asked if I would make it a regular feature. I know many of you are teachers, and there are probably others who are not technically teachers but work at some kind of job where teacher-like clothes are necessary {meaning professional but not too formal}. Others of you work with children in some other capacity and you realize how you dress is going to influence them.

So I am back again today for How to Dress like a Teacher - Round Two. Today we are talking about pants.
When it’s hot outside, I prefer to wear skirts and dresses to work because of the whole air flow/built in air conditioning system factor. However, sometimes it’s just easier to wear pants. You don’t have to worry about sudden gusts of wind, falling or sitting and flashing students, tucking the back of your skirt into your underwear, etc. etc. when you wear pants. And if you live in a cold state, like I used to, pants are pretty much a necessity for many months out of the year.

This is the pants section of my closet. And here is a close-up of some of the different colors and patterns of my pants that make dressing up for work a little more fun.

Rule #1: Build a good foundation. If you have a job where you are dressing up five days a week, you should build a good foundation of dress pants. I’ve seen many people who only own one or two pairs and they get all shabby and raggedy looking because the same pair of pants gets worn 2-3 times a week. Remember, part of our mission with students should be to teach them that women can dress WELL and still be modest. Having one raggedy black-fading-to-gray with frayed bottoms pair of dress pants is not dressing well.

I have a ton of dress pants. So many pairs, in fact, that one year my students noticed and wanted to know how many I owned, so we made a game out of it. I promised to wear every single pair of my pants without repeating {I kept them in order in my closet and everything} and each day during 2nd period, my class would make a tally on a sheet we kept by the whiteboard. It turned out I had 21 pairs of dress pants, and when you consider they were being worn four days a week {we had to wear skirts on Thursdays for chapel}, that means I had more than a month’s worth of pants. I slowly built this collection over my first four years of teaching. Almost, if not every pair was bought on sale for $30 or less at Gap, Banana Republic or J.Crew {or the outlet version of these stores}. Maybe it seems excessive, but I haven’t had to buy a pair of dress pants in years now, because I have such a good foundation and none of them ever gets worn out from overuse.

Of course, you don’t need 21 pairs of pants, but I would suggest a black pair, a chocolate and/or light brown pair, a gray pair, a striped pair, and a plaid pair. I also highly suggest a pair of cords and a cropped pant, if these are allowed at your workplace {I have worked at some schools where cords are not allowed, but I love it if they are}. If you have a variety of pants, you will be more enthusiastic about mixing outfits for work and showing others that professional can be pretty and that pretty should be modest.

Blouse:: Kohl's // Cardigan:: Nordstrom BP // Cords:: J.Crew Outlet // Shoes:: Banana Outlet 
// Necklace:: Nordstrom Last Chance // Watch:: Skagen {Nordstrom}

Rule #2: Size it right. Please, please, please wear the correct size of pants. Don’t wear anything too big and saggy – unattractive. And please don’t wear anything too small and tight – also unattractive. Wearing the wrong size and style can also be a hindrance during the work day. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. You put on something in the morning and realize later at work that it doesn’t fit quite right, so you spend all day tugging and pulling at your clothing self consciously. 

Also, please wear the right style of pants for your body shape. I have learned over the years that some brands fit me better than others. GAP dress pants almost always fit me flawlessly. Banana’s used to but they changed their styles recently and now they don’t anymore. When I figured out that the Lauren Conrad skinny cords matched my body shape perfectly I ended up buying a second pair in another color. My main concern is this… when pants don’t fit right students sometimes get to see things they shouldn’t. I don’t know how many times in the past seven years I have seen a female teacher leaning over or squatting down only to expose her thong hanging out of her ill-fitting pants. Really? Your pants should fit snuggly around your waist so you don’t accidentally give adolescent boys a peep show. And if you can’t invest in new pants quite yet, a belt goes a long way….

Sorry these pictures are a bit over exposed. Dang Arizona sun. Just kidding... I LOVE IT!
Top:: TJ Maxx // Caridgan:: Banana Republic // Pants:: GAP // Shoes:: Nine West 
// Necklace:: American Eagle {gift}

Who knew I could write so much about pants???

Linking up to: The Pleated Poppy, The Letter 4, and Five Days, Five Ways...

Jan 30, 2012

Sweatin' to the Oldies

So we hosted our first big gathering at the new house this past weekend. It was my sister in law's birthday and we threw one crazy, fun party. Kayla works at a rehab hospital as an activities director and about a month ago she did an exercise video with her patients - none other than Richard Simmons' Sweatin' to the Oldies. And then a brilliant idea popped into her head... a party theme for her upcoming birthday!

And there you have it. We had about thirty people over on Saturday and almost every single one of them dressed up in fab, tacky workout gear. And we actually did the video. There is proof below. And when I say video, I mean we pulled out my ol' tape/DVD combo player from my old classroom and we popped in that VHS! Believe it.

The best part of the night was present time. Kayla's laptop broke a few months ago and she has been relying on her smart phone ever since. A few of her friends found out she really needed a new computer and they all pitched in and bought her a tablet with a detachable keyboard. She had NO idea it was happening and she was literally in shock as she opened it. So fun!

I will let the pictures below do the rest of the talking, but if you are wondering, yes, Micah is wearing my pink running shorts...


Linking up with Embrace the Camera!

Jan 29, 2012

Lovely little things...

We have now had visitors for NINE weekends in a row. Yes, you read that right, NINE. In between our crazy weekends though, Micah and I got to slow down a little bit mid-week for once. We spent last Tuesday night at home, ate a crockpot dinner, did some work around the house, I neglected my homework and caught up on blogs for the evening, and Micah cleaned out two of his messy dresser drawers much to my delight. It was a good night and made us realize how much we had been craving some down time with just the two of us. On Thursday night we had a weekday date night, and we went to watch our beloved Washington Huskies play ASU in basketball. It was a close, fun game and the Huskies walked away with the victory so all was well in the Russum household.

Here are some other lovely little moments from our week from Phoebe's point of view...

Baskin Robbins craving... like one hour before dinner.

Oh, and this was dinner. Chips // Guacamole // Salsa // Queso - it doesn't get better than that.

Busted out the new sewing machine. Good thing my mom was in town to teach me how to use it!

Back in running mode and it feels good {and HORRIBLE at the same time}. 
That's what happens when you take two months off I suppose.

Two completely unexpected notes of encouragement came in the mail on the same day. // RIP Picnik!

Work day at one of my fave Phoenix spots - LGO.

Date night with Micah. Go Huskies!

I baked both these cakes for my sister in law's birthday party. Recipes coming soon!

And the birthday party was themed "Sweatin' to the Oldies." We totally did a Richard Simmons workout video. Yes, video. As in VHS. Bring it!


Linking up with Life Made Lovely and Aisle to Aloha!

Jan 26, 2012

Flowers Fade Friday: Choose ONE.

I hope I can say this with grace. Because it bugs me… a lot. Are you committed to one church? Have you picked the best church you can find with solid teaching and a good vision for ministry and have you made that church your home? Do you serve there? Share your life with the people there? Obey and study what your pastor teaches you from the Word? Do you give your money to this church?

Or are you a church hopper? Are you never fully satisfied with any church so you hop from church to church? Maybe you visit some of them for only a week or two. At others you might stay for a few months or maybe even a year before you decide you don’t like the lady that always sits behind you or the music is too loud or too quiet or the sermons are too long or not long enough, or you don’t like your small group or they don’t have VBS in the summer or they use crackers instead of bread at communion… Whatever it may be, you typically move on to the next church as soon as something bothers you at your current one or as soon as you hear about the amazing new worship service at the church down the block.

Or maybe you are a double-dipper? You go to some big, fancy mega church for their awesome worship and their variety of ministries that can serve you, give you friends, make you feel content, but you actually don’t really like the teaching that much. It doesn’t challenge you, so you go to night service at this cool church, but you go to another smaller church for their morning service because you get fed there spiritually. You don’t serve at this smaller church or tithe there; you just smile at the precious little pastor as he preaches and then you make your way across town to your sanctuary full of electric guitars.

*Disclaimer: I am not knocking large or small churches here. I have happily been a part of huge mega churches and small churches where sometimes the babies outnumber the adults.*

My point is that big or small doesn’t matter. It just matters that you choose ONE. You aren't a super Christian if you are going to an extra service to get good teaching before or after you go to the church that fills all your social needs. You aren't on some holy mission if you are never satisfied with your church and always going in search of the perfect one.

God wants you to pick a church. He wants you to share life with a local flock. He wants you to serve your church. Give to your church. Pray for your church.

The truth of the matter is that no church is perfect. A church is a place filled with sinners {hopefully mostly redeemed ones or those seeking Jesus}. There will be people in the church who wrong you. Your pastor might not preach the best sermon every single week {but hopefully the Holy Spirit guides his preaching always}. The worship leader might not always sing your favorite songs. The whole world is hurting financially and this, of course, includes churches. Your church might not be able to provide all the fun ministries you want or have a staff of pastors to counsel you and encourage you at every turn. But that doesn't mean you should leave. It means you should give. You should give your time and volunteer for a task that your church can’t pay someone to do. You should give your money to keep your church functioning in our uncertain economy and to pay the pastor who brings you God’s truth each week. You should give of yourself by sharing your struggles and joys with other believers and praying with them and for them, because we don’t need a bunch of counselors when we are living in Gospel community with other people that truly love Jesus. We don’t always need VBS when we have a church full of Jesus-loving parents who are willing to exchange babysitting and allow their children to play together in Gospel homes.

*Another disclaimer: I am also not against counseling. There are many situations where pastoral care or counseling is definitely necessary. But there are many needs in the church that could be met by loving friends instead of by dominating the pastor’s schedule.

I beg of you, choose a church. Stop skipping church, double-dipping, or hopping around. Of course, it’s okay to search for a church for a while when you move to a new town or whatnot, but the search has to end. Find the most theologically sound, Jesus-loving church close to your home and give your time, your money and your prayers to this church. Be prepared to see God bless you and teach in you in new ways when you love and serve His flock.

This is our missional community in Scottsdale... 
they are honestly some of our very best friends in our new city!

{{The pictures throughout this post are of my churches since high school. There are three not because I hopped around, but because I have lived in three different states over the past ten years. The first is a traditional mid to large sized Bible church in Texas. The second is a modern, mega-church in Seattle. The last picture is of the coffee shop that my tiny Scottsdale church met in this past summer when we were in between buildings. I told you, I'm not picky about size or style. I just want a church that loves Jesus and I want you to have one too!}}


Jan 25, 2012

Blog Swap: Meet Jaclyn!

Hi friends!

The lovely Jaclyn of Snap, Crackle, Pop and I are swapping blogs today. Since Jaclyn lives in the middle of the snowy Midwest and I live in sunny Arizona, we thought it would be fun to share about our "typical" winter day...

The is the view outside as I write this post... glorious!

I will now let Jaclyn teach you about all things snow and you can find me posting about winter Arizona-style over at her blog today!


I have lived, my entire life, in the Midwest. Because of parents moving, college and new jobs, that does include three different states, but the weather is always the same. The winters are always the same. Cold. Bitter. Snowy.

Because I’ve moved around so much, I have friends all over the place. Luckily, a large amount of them are concentrated to the Midwest, and I like to visit them as much as I can. Last weekend, in fact, I had plans to go to Cincinnati to visit friends.

Alas, Old Man Winter, that turd, had other plans.

The snow started at 2:30 p.m. By the time work ended on Friday, there wasn’t an inch of ground that wasn’t covered with snow. I called and promptly cancelled the trip and looked forward ((sarcasm)) to my ride home.

This is what the drive home looked like:

4:58 -- I walk out of my building. When I get to my car, I start it, turn on the rear window defrosters, turn the heater on high and set it to window defroster. I use the ginormous ice brush and scraper to get all the snow off my car.

5:08 -- I actually pull out of my parking spot. I turn onto Main Street.

5:09 -- A gust of wind moves all the snow I did not remove from the top of my car to my rear windshield. I cannot see out the back window for the reminder of the drive.

5:13: My windshield wipers stop doing their job; there is a chunk of ice so large stuck to one of them that it is pushing the entire wiper away from my windshield. Instead of sloughing away the snow, it is instead just smearing it around, turning the car in front of me into a blurry mess.

5:24 -- I turn off Main Street. It is worth noting that the distance I have traveled on Main is 0.8 mile. The traffic is so slow, I could have safely tweezed my eyebrows, shaved my legs and read a chapter in the book I am working on, “Anansi Boys” by Neil Gaiman.

5: 28 -- At a red light, I open my window and try to grab my driver’s side wiper as it swishes over to the edge of the windshield. I am trying to snap it so that giant chunk of ice breaks off and allows the wiper to do its job. My attempts are futile.

5:31 -- I turn off my windshield wipers all together. With my defrosters on high, all moisture that hits my windshield immediately turns to liquid, so the blockage of my view is minimal.

5:36 -- I realize I am going 25 miles per hour and feel like a speed demon.

5:42 -- I fishtail my way through a left turn.

5:48 -- I am home. It is 50 minutes after I left work. I have traveled 4.7 miles in 40 minutes. This equates to an average speed of 7.05 miles per hour.

Ain’t winter grand?


And the winner of the WORDPLAY locket from Jaclyn's shop is...


Alex said...

follow @jenrussum on twitter


And if you didn't win, don't worry! Jaclyn's shop is still filled with super cute jewelry and she is offering free shipping to all my readers. Enter the code freeshipping at checkout!

Jen {and Jaclyn!}

Jan 24, 2012

Baking: Love/Hate {Part Two - Lemon Squares}

Regardless of my love/hate relationship with baking {I posted about it yesterday - read it here}, I sucked it up and baked not once, but twice, this past week {banana bread recipe coming soon}!

My dear friend Bekah, drove over from Cali to visit me for MLK weekend and we made lemon bars together. Bekah is quite the little baker, so something about being in her presence inspires me to want to bake too. She brought me some pretty, bright yellow lemons that were begging to be made into lemon bars. We used the Smitten Kitchen recipe and Bekah taught me a baker's secret. She introduced me to putting parchment paper on the bottom of the pan to prevent the bars from sticking. Did y'all know about this? Am I out of the loop on this because I am a part-time baker hater? Anyway, the parchment paper worked like a champ and I can now scratch scrubbing the bottom of dirty baking pans off my list of reasons I hate baking... am I slowly crossing over?

Basically, you should know that this recipe makes a 9x12 pan of lemon squares and I ate about 3/4 of them myself. That is all.

Lemon Squares {from Smitten Kitchen}

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the lemon layer:
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (3 to 4 lemons)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup flour
*Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

How you do it:
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet {OR grease the pan and then add parchment paper on top so it sticks to the grease and stays in place}.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Pull/roll the dough into a giant ball in the mixing bowl and then put the ball in your greased pan. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for 5-20 minutes.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool in pan.

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 28-32 minutes or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into rectangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.



Jan 23, 2012

Baking: Love/Hate {Part One}

Let me share a little secret with you. I kinda hate baking. I mean you can’t fully hate baking because when you bake, baked goods come out of the oven and they are delicious. So the story always ends happily. Except it doesn’t really… it’s a faux happy ending.

This is how baking really works: you get out a bunch of ingredients that spill all over your floor and counter {sugar, flour, etc.}, you measure them all precisely according to a recipe {no creativity}, and then you put the mixed ingredients in the oven. Did I mention the risk of baking - that if you aren't paying close enough attention and accidentally forget or add too much of one ingredient all your work in ruined? Anyway, back to the baking process. You have to keep your eye on the oven, since all ovens cook differently, to make sure you don’t undercook or overcook these baked goods. 

Then comes the good part if you succeed in all of the above…. fresh and warm baked goods straight from the oven! The bad part is that baked goods only really taste great the first 24-48 hours, so the goal, at least in my opinion, is to eat as many as you possibly can in that first day or two. And this is where the faux happy ending comes into play – eating, I don’t know… say, two dozen cookies, half a cake, or one whole loaf of bread in a two day span is simply not good for you, anyway you look at it. I don’t care if you used applesauce instead of oil. It’s not healthy. {P.S. I do NOT believe in using applesauce instead of oil, spelt instead of flour, or Splenda instead of sugar. If you are going to make a treat, you need to MAKE a treat. Butter, oil, sugar, white fluffy flour. Bring it. Don’t skimp. Just don’t do it very often.} And that, my friends, is why I don’t like baking.  I love the fluffy, sugary goodness that comes out of the oven, but the process… the flour-dusted counters, babysitting the oven, the desire to consume three times my daily calorie needs in bread and cookies makes me kinda hate it.

With all that said, I will be back tomorrow with two new recipes because I sucked it up and baked TWICE this past week. And now I'm sucking it in because of that 3,000 calorie factor...

Just some proof that I know how to bake, even though I love/hate it...


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