#2: Throw a Summer Beach Bonfire Party. Check.

Ok, I’ll admit this one was really easy. It’s not exactly the physical and mental fortitude of a burpee mile, or the long term dedication and commitment of getting a new job, but it’s something I wanted to do – so there!

Last summer over Labor Day weekend, a few friends and I thought we would venture out to Sauvie Island and have a bonfire. Technically, you’re not supposed to be there after dark, or have a fire, so we were a little nervous. But if you ever go to the island’s beach, you’ll see plenty of evidence that others have had nighttime fires. And back in the fall when we were in the midst of our Sheriff’s Citizen Academy, we asked one of the deputies if they cared about river fires, and the looked at us with a raised eyebrow and said, “Uh, we have better things to do.” Thus, with a little more planning, I figured I could finish out the summer with my best buds.

For those not totally familiar with Sauvie Island, it’s pretty much all farmland and wildlife preserve. 


The first thing people ask me when I tell them that I like get my bronze on at island’s beach is, “Do you go to the naked beach…??” To which I reply, “Yessss…but fully clothed.” It’s true. A very large section of the beach is “clothing optional” and you’ll see people out playing beach volleyball and bocce ball and partying on their boats completely au natural. Clothing, no clothing, or a little bit in between – it’s your choice; like my friend, David, who dons his speedo. Welcome to Portland.

Several weeks ago I invited some friends to join me, toasting one of the last days of summer (yeah, I know summer technically goes till late September, but for those of us in education, it ends when the school year begins). The weather was perfect and we had the entire beach to ourselves. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire (built by my eagle scout husband, Thor), kicked back a few beers, and did our thing. 



IMG_2726In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m someone who like seasonal traditions, so hopefully this becomes an annual outing. 

Don’t be sad! Summer’s not over yet! You, too, can still do a bonfire of your own! Here was our checklist for guaranteed fun:

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Me and Martha

Yesterday I was at a friend’s BBQ, and you wouldn’t believe how many people asked me, “So you’re off work for the summer, right?” After giving the affirmative, everyone asked the same follow-up question, “What exactly do you do all summer…?”

This is a difficult question. Should I be honest and say that I sleep in till 7:30 (that’s late for me), drink coffee with a cat on my lap, have a leisurely work out at the gym, and…..? Since it seems like bragging; I generally attempt to deflect the question. Yet at the same time, I certainly don’t just sit around.

Martha Stewart Living is one of my favorite magazines, and I always look forward to her calendar, right behind the table of contents. I imagine most people flip right past, but I zero in on Martha’s “to-do” list. Of course there are many other items that aren’t listed on this calendar, but I like to think these are her most-important items of note; things that are seasonal or a better chunk of her day.


In fact, I specifically plot out my summer calendars with Martha in mind. (BTW, yes I did officially enter the state fair crafting and baking competitions today).

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 8.15.40 PMMost people roll their eyes when I tell them Martha Stewart is one my heroes. I get even more condescending laughter when they find out I own some shares of her stock. Maybe it’s that she’s of an older generation, or she became the butt of many jokes when she went to prison. I’m not really sure why. I certainly don’t tease people when they say their heroes are cliches like Maya Angelou or John Lennon. That’s their prerogative.

However, if I’m going to put my lady, Martha, on the spot, I might as well tell you why I think she’s fucking amazing.

Top 5 Reasons Martha Stewart Rules

1. She is self-trained in cooking. And just self-made in general. When I want to learn something new in cooking or crafting, her books or website or magazine are the first place I go because at one time or another, she also had to learn how to do it.

2. While in prison, she coached and advised other prisoners on their business plans. And from what I understand, she continued to keep in touch with a couple and provided some entrepreneurial support.

3. She never stops. I read somewhere that when she takes a nap, she’s still thinking. She also banned couches on the set of her show.

4. She’s an animal lover. Yeah she has lots of her own animals, but much of her philanthropic work is dedicated to helping animals. Need I say more?

5. She used her looks as an advantage in business. Some would argue this isn’t the “right” way for a woman to succeed, but men throw their weight around all the time. Why not combat it with hot pants and a little charm?



The Summer Bucket List……..

I could tell you that I ran 3.5 miles and did 1/3 of a burpee mile yesterday. I could tell you I’m supposed to teach a university class in a couple weeks. I could tell you I have been corresponding with a double dutch group. Or that I am planning on seeing an opera this month. I could tell you all that, but really, all I can think about is SUMMMMMMMERRRRRRR.

Today was the first day of the last week of school. My students were miserable little adolescent jerks. The window shades were pulled down “to keep the temperature down,” but really it was so my wandering eyes wouldn’t get distracted by the perfect weather. 

So yeah, I could talk about all my regular goals (that are mostly on track), but my summer bucket list is way more on the forefront of my mind right now.

Things I Want to Do This Summer That Aren’t on My “List”

Watch a movie on the rooftop of Hotel Deluxe

Pick strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries

Go to Sunrise at the Zoo

Go to Sunset at the Zoo

Let my friend, Kerrie, wax intellectual about wines at Pheasant Valley Winery in Hood River, OR

Eat some Jack Stack BBQ in Kansas City

Try Paddle Boarding

Bake a malted milk cake

Remodel our bedroom closets

Bake a strawberry rhubarb pie

Eat s’mores over an open fire

Play beach volleyball

Play horseshoes

Ride the Mt Hood Railroad Brunch Train

Organize the garage

Deep clean the kitchen

Convince my friend, Frances, to let me throw her a Roman Birthday Party

Pick an old TV series to watch from beginning to end

Play ping pong

Do a puzzle

Paint our bedroom a new color

Camp in a yurt on Sauvie’s Island


Four more days, people. Four more days.



Top 10 Things I Would Miss if I Became an Administrator

Today I start my last class to finish my my program to get my administrative license. I also have to finish my portfolio and tie up a few loose ends, but basically the light is at the end of the tunnel. Theoretically, I could throw my name in the the pool for Assistant Principals in March 2014.

But this summer has been a serious reality check. Two years ago when I started the program, I was terribly unsatisfied with size of my teacher salary and the lack of career mobility, so being an administrator just seemed like the next step. Now when people ask me about my plans in administration, I grimace a little. It doesn’t feel right. Something doesn’t click. The prospect doesn’t energize me like it used to.

The truth is that I’m sitting here right now in my pajamas, watching the Today Show while drinking coffee, surrounded by my cats. When the sun comes out, I’m going to go lay by the pool with a friend. Yes, this is my Monday morning. And tomorrow? basically the same thing. If I was a principal, I would probably be at work.

Teachers have it ROUGH during the school year, but mannnnnn oh mannnnnn we have it easy during the summer. At this point, every summer since I started teaching has been better than the one before, and I just don’t think I can give it up. As I near the end of my program, I feel a lot of pressure to make a decision and I’m pretty sure the reason I’ve been dragging my feet is because I’m 95% sure I no longer want to go into administration.

I am certain I would be a good principal. I just know it. But good god, the ones I know work seven days a week and they look tired. They are under so much pressure, and the closer I get the more I see little political games being played. 

Remember when you were a kid and how AWESOME summer break was? You had an endless amount of time to just play! Well summer break is like that for me, except with money and a car! Many of my friends are also teachers, so I can text someone and say, “Happy hour karaoke?” or “Want to go to the beach?” or “Let’s eat corn dogs at the fair!” and someone else is always ready to hang out. You can’t beat that.

Oh, did I mention a couple weeks off for Winter Break? A week for Spring Break? I choose to have my 9 month paycheck spread out over 12 months, so I still get paid, and I deserve it! So in March when I’m trying to figure out what to do, I’m going to come back and read this post to get some perspective because I just know I would have to give 90% of this stuff up.

Top 10 Things I Would Miss if I Became an Administrator

1. Ambush makeovers on KLG and Hoda

2. Leisurely workouts any day of the week

3. Waking up whenever I want

4. Laying bed reading celebrity gossip for an hour before getting out of bed

5. Going to Kansas 

6. Daytime karaoke

7. Walking to the grocery store for popsicles 

8. Tanning at Sauvie’s Island 

9. Berry picking

10. Double naps

10 Things I Will Do This Summer That Aren’t On My List

Just about a year ago, I wrote a post about the 10 other things I would do in the summer that didn’t pertain to my 2012 list. Why have different lists? Well, my blog list contains things that I NEED to publicize to keep me accountable, and to solicit the expertise from people I know. But being a teacher means I am lucky enough to get TWO WHOLE MONTHS OF VACATION (omg omg omg).

Most teachers I know spend the summer traveling or doing big house projects. For me, I prefer to spend mine like a first world yuppie. During the school year, I literally spend more time at school that I do at home (I’ve done the math – don’t challenge that). My school and classroom are FILTHY and DILAPIDATED. Every single day I would come in and have to clean up mice droppings, clear ants off the counter, etc. Ceiling tiles are missing. The desks are uneven from missing feet. The sink stops up daily & the water is questionable. (See why schools need more money?!). So when summer rolls around, I not only need some time to myself, I also need to spend time in a CLEAN and INHABITABLE place. 

While my fall, winter, and spring look like scenes from Dangerous Minds, my summer looks like a Target commercial. During the school year, the things I hope to do in the summer are constantly rolling around in my head. Today starts my very first week of summer and I’m going to live until I die.

10 Things I Will Do This Summer That Aren’t On My List

1. Reorganize all of the kitchen cupboards. (Adventurous, I know).

2. Steam clean the carpets. (Even more adventurous).

3. Catch up on Mad Men.

4. Paint my new classroom.

5. Go on a brunch train ride with my friends on the Mount Hood Railroad.

6. Sing karaoke weekly.

7. Sneak into the neighboring apartment complex’s brand new pool.

8. Build Thor a fabulous closet that will finally house his 916 pairs of Nikes.

9. Spend a really hot summer day in the Bingo Hall.

10. Get more tan than my friend, David. (It’s on!)

Cake & Marshmallows ROUND TWO

Yesterday, my friend, Kerrie, celebrated her birthday, her graduation, and her new teaching job all in one big backyard party. I had so much fun making a four layered cake a couple weeks ago, I decided to give it another go. And since I knew there would be a bonfire, I also made more homeade marshmallows.

This time, I allowed myself to get a little more creative with the cake. I went with a vanilla cake filled with lemon curd, topped with cream cheese icing. It turned out pretty well except that I forgot birthday candles, so we threw one giant house candle on it.

I’ve never really been into cake, but now I’ve decided it’s pretty easy and fun (albeit a little time consuming) so I imagine I’ll be making several more over the summer.

My marshmallows didn’t turn out quite as good. First off, I ran out of corn syrup (marshmallows are primarily gelatin, corn syrup, sugar, and water) so I tried a new recipe that didn’t call for corn syrup. When I poured the batch into a pan to set, it was filled with little air bubbles, however I used this hand-dandy “mini sandwich maker” I bought from a student to cut shapes pretty perfect. At one o’clock in the afternoon, the marshmallows seemed like my best batch ever.

Good for looks, not for roasting

However, by the time we reached the party, they were getting a little melty (even though I stuck them in the refrigerator) and when I tried to roast them in the bonfire, they just melted into nothing. BOO! So next time I’m back to the corn syrup. 

Either way, it was a good party and we got to sit next to the fire, eat pulled pork & cake, and enjoy a summer evening before today’s rain rolled in.