Thankful.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving friends! I know I haven’t blogged in forever, but the reason for this is threefold:

  1. I’ve been bogged down with planning and marking at school.
  2. I’ve been focusing on our podcast (episode 2 about food and nutrition as self-care is now available on the podcast app! Just search “Self-care with Lauren and Blair” to listen!)
  3. Aaaaand I just haven’t been inspired to write, unfortunately, and I didn’t want to blog for the sake of blogging.

But here we are, and damnit, I’ll try to write something relatively coherent and engaging for all of y’all, because I know my 5 loyal followers want it.

What am I thankful for this year? Like, a lot. It’s been a really good time both personally and professionally, and I need to make a list because I love lists and lists are awesome.

1. My health. Always first and foremost. How lucky am I that my body is healthy enough to allow me to do high impact exercise 3 days a week? To run around with my children? To get out of bed every day and live a productive life? I will never ever take this for granted. When I sit on that spin bike, I thank gd for my health multiple times. I also thank gd I’m not pregnant, because being in that body really freaking sucks, but that’s a whole other blog post.

2. My family. I mean, duh. I’m eternally grateful that my children are happy and healthy and not the spawn of Satan. I also feel so blessed to have a wonderful husband, the best parents, and the cutest of sisters eva.

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Apple picking when it’s still hot out is fun too. (TB to a few weeks ago…)

3. My friends. I tightened my inner circle A LOT this year and it’s been very liberating. I have the world’s most patient friends, because for the last four months, my conversations, meals, and life in general have revolved around Instagram. They don’t get to eat until I’ve photographed (or rather, they’ve photographed because I’m a shitty photographer) their meals, and my conversations with them are a steady stream of follows and unfollows, podcast plans, and asking which picture to post. I’m sorry guys. I really truly suck. You’re all amazing for tolerating me.

4. Impromptu weekend trips to NYC. The fact the most incredible city in the world is just a one hour flight away is nothing short of amazing! I don’t want to live there, but every few months I just feel the pull of the city and gravitate towards it. It’s an addiction, I suppose, but the energy, food, nightlife, and shopping are beyond magnetic.

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5. My job. I have the best students this semester. We have the most interesting class discussions, and they’re all so engaged and participatory. It’s rare to get a group where the majority of the students have strong opinions, so this is pretty much English teacher heaven for me! Also, in case people think teenagers are rude and disrespectful, I want to tell you that every morning, my students come into my class and greet me with a “hello” or a “good morning.” When they leave the class, they say “have a good day miss,” or “bye!” They’re such mensches! I really appreciate their warmth and kindness, because it keeps me in a good mood and sets a really positive tone for the day.

6. Refined carbohydrates and gluten. Pizza. Donuts. Tacos.

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This maple bacon donut from Dipped Donuts in Kensington Market is pretty much the epitome of fall in Canada, amirite? I think I am most grateful for this donut. Like, I love my family and stuff, but…donuts win.

Pizza, Podcasting, and Promotions

Oh my gd, I just love an alliterative title so effing much.

Anyway, hi. This is a shameless self promotion post. But no one else is going to do it for me, so here we are.

Some exciting things have been going on for me in the blogosphere. First of all, I started a podcast!

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This is Blair, my 22 year old former student, and podcast co-host. Not only could she be my little sister, but she’s eloquent, mature beyond her years, so cool, and just generally very knowledgeable. Her values regarding self-care totally align with mine, and so we decided to make something special together.

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This is our podcast. You can find it in the podcasts app. Give it a listen if you want to hear about how we live our lives, caring for ourselves through food, exercise, meditation and mindfulness, beauty, and lifestyle. Right now we just have our introductory episode out, but stay tuned for episode 2 very shortly! Please subscribe if you like what you hear!

Also, I wanted to share a clothing promotion I currently have going on. I’m an ambassador for a women’s fashion website called Poppy Apparel!

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(Purchase this top and other amazing pieces here.)

Use my code ATHLEISURE10 at checkout for 10% off your order! Their stuff is so cute, and shipping is free!

Lastly, I’ll leave you all with pictures of me stuffing my face with tacos, because well, that’s what I do best.

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Best of Summer Eats

As you are all fully aware of, I spent approximately 95% of the summer eating. So I thought it would only be right to share some of my best summer eats with you all, and hopefully inspire you all to the level of gluttony I achieved.

Enjoy! (Especially because I likely won’t have time to blog in the next coming weeks as I get acclimatized back into my work routine.)

Best salad (starting off light) – Parallel Salad at Parallel, 217 Geary Ave., Toronto

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This new Middle Eastern restaurant has been getting lots of hype, and rightly so. They nailed it with this salad of kale, sweet potato, lentils, walnuts, and beet tahini. It was filling from the vegan protein, and was tangy and savory AF. Note: there is also goat cheese on this salad, but I fear all things goat, so I omitted. I’m sure it’s even more delicious with the cheese.

Best pasta – Gnocchi Gorgonzola at Scaddabush Italian Kitchen and Bar (various locations across the GTA)

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I eat a lot of carbs, so I consider myself a carb connoisseur. This gnocchi wouldn’t be something I normally order, probably because I don’t think I like Gorgonzola cheese, but these little babies were cooked to perfection, and the sauce wasn’t nearly as rich as I anticipated (but still plenty rich). Basically this dish was a solid 10/10 for me, and I highly recommend it, and various other pastas and pizza from this Italian restaurant.

Best avocado toast – Oliver and Bonacini (various locations across the GTA)

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This avocado toast was to die for. It had hummus on it for a little zip, and it was essentially a salad on bread, with tons of fresh veggies. I put bacon crumble on top for $2 (I think), and it added some much needed protein, saltiness, crunch, and just general happiness.

Best dumpling/dim sum – Yu Garden, 8750 Bayview Ave., Richmond Hill

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While all the other dim sum restaurants we used to frequent north of the city have gone out of business, Yu Garden has been around for quite some time. We were reluctant to try it, because it’s very authentic Chinese food from Shanghai. They’re known for their soup dumplings, and other than the odd scalding here and there from the various times we’ve gone this summer, I have nothing but good things to say about this place. The food is incredible and you will leave very very very satisfied.

Best cocktail – Green Sangria from Scaddabush Italian Kitchen and Bar

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What can I say? This delicious fruity concoction pairs well with gluttony, carbs, and cheese. I drank this on their adorable patio multiple times this summer. Runner up for best cocktail goes to Radisson Admiral Hotel (249 Queens Quay W., Toronto), for their delicious white sangria as well…

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Best pizza – Sorelle and Co. (various locations across the GTA)

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Never in a million years would I have thought that the best pizza I’d have this summer would be a vegan one! I did eat a lot of pizza this summer, so that’s saying a lot. This Sorelle and Co. pizza was topped with tons of fresh veggies, and was perfectly balanced and not greasy like most of the pizza I traditionally consume. I highly recommend it!

Best ice cream – Cacao 70 Dip Shop, 180 Enterprise Blvd., Markham

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Once you eat your ice cream smothered in decadent chocolate, you can’t go back. There was way too much ice cream in here and I had trouble finishing it, but the rich coffee flavoured chocolate (pictured right) was to die for!

Best appetizer – Kung Pao Caulifower at the Keg (various locations across the GTA)

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So this summer I won a whopping $300 gift card to the Keg from an Instagram food account (Shout out to ToFoodies)! I don’t eat steak/don’t really care much for meat in general, so this cauliflower app was the real MVP for me. It was fried and tasted like Kung Pao chicken. It was incredible!

Best vegan dessert – Cookie Dough Cinnamon Bun at Cinnaholic, Promenade Mall, 1 Promenade Cir., Thornhill

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Feast your eyes on this baby for a moment, will ya? It only cost me $10, but it was well worth every penny. You’d think the frosting mixed with the chocolate sauce, chocolate chips and vegan cookie dough on top would be a bit much, but somehow I managed to devour the entire thing. Pro tip: I recently tried a basic cinnamon bun there and was disappointed. It didn’t fill me with the same kind of happiness. So my suggestion is if you’re going to go there, go hard and splurge on something extra.

Best sushi – Tomo Japanese Restaurant, 9625 Yonge St., Richmond Hill

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The sushi at Tomo is fresh, high-quality, and super delicious. Pictured are the dynamic roll (above), and the spicy beef roll (below). The service is amazing too!

 

 

The End of Summer Sads

Hi friends! I woke up so depressed today knowing there’s only 2 weeks of summer vacation left. This is around the time I should be making my peace with returning to work, especially considering this summer I did allllllllll the things, but I’m just…not. Frankly, the summer of 2018 was just too good to me, and knowing it’s coming to an end is a tough pill to swallow.

Because we’ve been so busy, I deliberately left the last 3 weekends of the summer open for us to just spend quality time as a family, and that’s what we did this past weekend. There were impromptu park trips, bike rides, and a spontaneous trip downtown to explore, and tbh, it was so nice to just be able to chill.

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I have no smart ass caption for this. I just really like my kids.

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We went to Trinity Bellwoods park, and I sat for a bit, just letting my creative juices flow. I have a big project coming up, and I can’t wait to share it! (Little spoiler – it’s a joint venture with an amazing partner in crime.)

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Just strollin’ with my squad, because..photo ops.

There was also a lot of eating feelings that went down this past weekend, so I’ll leave you with these beautiful creations.

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Cinnaholic’s vegan cookie dough cinnamon bun.

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Milk Cow’s watermelon ice cream sandwich.

You want both of these in your mouth. Yes, you definitely do.

Carrots and Cake

Oh haaaaaay! It’s been a hot minute. Sorry friends; this past weekend we threw a joint birthday party for the kids, and frankly I’m still recuperating. It wasn’t quite the type of rager I’ve been enjoying this summer, but it’s left me exhausted regardless.

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This little cutie turned 3 last Saturday!

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And of course he just wanted alllll the mommy cuddles cuz he’s a total suck and being a high school teacher who has seen her share of teenage mama’s boys, I know this means I will probably let him live in my basement til he’s 40, making him pizza pockets and calling his employer to let them know he’s going to be late, but it’s all good because I lololololooooooove him so freaking much.

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Wow, the puke green wall really accentuates my crazy.

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So my best friend snapped this pic because she was all like, “Leave it to the Athleisure Teacher to be eating carrots at a birthday party.” Full disclosure: this is NOT the only thing I ate. Yes I do gravitate towards the fruit and veggie platters (just not the dip because there’s a 236% chance that at least one nasty person has double dipped or stuck their indoor play place germ infested finger in that shit), but we all know I’m about balance, so I usually treat myself too. I make a conscious choice between pizza or cake, but not both. It all depends if I’m feeling sweet or savoury that day, but usually it’s savoury because pizza is life and I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t eat carbs or cheese.

And because you all come here for the adult content…

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I had a beautiful lunch with one of my favourite friends last Friday at Sorelle and Co., the cutest little vegan bakery with amazing savoury lunch options. I got to hear about her new puppy, and snagged the most incredible s’mores tart to take home for later.

We also had an impromptu photo shoot, because…hmm…well…we had a photo shoot because I’m vain. Yup.

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RBF.

Instagram Health Trends I Can’t Get Down With

When it comes to health and wellness, social media can be a double edged sword. On one hand, Instagram can be motivational and inspirational; encouraging people to get fit and make better choices. But on the flip side, there are some pretty extreme perspectives and fad diets that are pervasive in those little squares, and I think it can be dangerous for impressionable people who are grasping at whatever they can to lose weight. Today I wanted to share some of these trends with you, because as per usual, I have some pretty strong opinions on them.

  1. Intermittent fasting: I’m sorry, but why the eff are people starving themselves again? Isn’t that so 1983? Letting your stomach growl for 16 hours a day can’t possibly be a thing. I don’t care how much weight you lose; starvation isn’t cute. I eat every 3-4 hours because if my blood sugar dips, I get bitchy af. I can’t imagine not eating for 2/3rds of the day (are you proud of my math skillz guys? Is that even right? 16 out of 24 hours is 2/3rds, right?)…that’s just masochistic.
  2. Bulletproof coffee (and the keto diet in general): MORE BUTTER! Gimme allllll the butter. WTF? How is this a thing? Before I launch into my tirade, let me actually share what Bulletproof coffee is. Some guy invented it when he went traveling abroad to like the Himalayas or some shit and he put grassfed butter (or ghee) in his coffee and also something called MCT oil which is ideal for brain function and mental clarity. Allegedly it keeps you full for hours, but that’s because it has 17,000 calories or something like that. I tried one recently for the first time, and let’s just say that MCT oil gave me a case of the shits like I’ve never experienced in my life. Never. Again.
  3. No fruit: Bitches be putting cauliflower and zucchini in their smoothies now instead of bananas and blueberries. Apparently fruit has too much sugar. Mmmkay then. I’ll just be over here adding your unused banana to my smoothie. Enjoy drinking your blended cruciferous veggies. Get it girl!
  4. No bread for toast: Now we make toast with thinly cut sweet potatoes. I can’t with this. I will eat bread forever because carbs make MY brain function, and I really like bread. Don’t pull the bread from under my toast, thankyouverymuch.

 

So yeah, my rant is over, but just remember to always do you, boo. What works for me is balance and moderation, eating ALL the food groups, and eating ALL the livelong day. Maybe that isn’t the case for you, but I strongly caution you to avoid these Instagram “health and wellness” traps, because I honestly just don’t see how they’re smart choices.

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Body built by carbs, fruit, and very little butter.

XO, The Athleisure Teacher

Real Housewives of Thornhill – Episode 1

Hi friends! Happy Friday! For those of you working for the weekend, congrats, you’ve made it! I’m just over here losing all track of days of the week because let’s be real, every day is the weekend for me. Sorry, not sorry.

I can’t believe it’s July 20th. July is flying by, and pretty soon it’ll be August. August is a special kind of hell, because it’s an entire month of the Sunday Scaries and the feeling of impending doom sits with you daily. So my plan is to just savour each day and keep saying yes to just about anything that comes my way.

Here’s a little insight into what I’ve been up to.

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joey

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Matcha, lunch, pampering. All day every day, on repeat. Am I getting tired of it? As if! Pretty sure I could live like this 12 months a year, not just two. I’m flying through my summer reading list, seeing friends I haven’t seen in ages, and just generally living my best life. It’s been so amazing for my mental health to rest and recharge, and be more free spirited.

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And the best part of feeling so recharged, is that on evenings and weekends I feel way more equipped to parent. I’m more patient, slower to anger, and much more hands on because of how rested I am…

Kidding. Totally kidding. I’m the same mediocre mom I am when I’m at work. I just threw these in here because I know you assholes are judging me for being selfish and not parenting during the day. XO Love you guys.

 

Wanderlust – My NYC Roundup

Hi friends! I’m home! My four days in New York City were the most magical days I’ve had in years, so I’m obviously here to share my time with you. Please enjoy a post written by a late 30 something who lived like an early 20 something, and try not to judge me too hard, okay? Give a middle aged mother of two some freedom in the best city in the world, and it’s a given that she’ll go a little crazy. #noregrets

So we got into NYC Friday around 2 pm. Our flight was delayed because of some insane thunderstorms and a flood warning, but we got there, and decided to take public transportation to our hotel in Times Square. Also, ew, don’t stay in Times Square, okay? Do yourself a favour and book yourself a pricier boutique hotel in SoHo, so as to avoid the chaos, STIs, and various other gross things that exist in Times Square. This is now the second time I’ve gone and made this mistake, and no matter how magical it is there at night, when the sun rises and you see how truly revolting the place is (you’ll smell it too), you’ll want to run like hell. But you won’t be able to, due to hoards of tourists, naked body painted women, terrifying characters, etc.

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This matcha churro was literally the only good thing to come out of Times Square. And believe me when I say I earned it, after hauling an extremely heavy piece of luggage up and down the subway system to get to the hotel.

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After bathing in the stink of Times Square for a bit, we ventured out to Soho for dinner at La Esquina, a super authentic Mexican restaurant on Kenmare St. From the outside, it’s an unassuming little store/taco stand, but then you go down some stairs into this cavern and it’s all just like…mood. I tried to film it, but the bitch hostess yelled at me, “no video!” Welcome to New York. Anyway, the place was pretentious AF and straight up, the food and margs were mediocre. It’s super hyped up and I think rated very highly, but we were underwhelmed. I mean, they couldn’t even make us some chips and guac. WTF? Don’t call yourself a Mexican restaurant if you don’t serve guac.

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Excuse the taco bloat in this pic.

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Saturday we decided to do touristy stuff. We went to the 911 memorial, and it was so sombre and hit me so hard. I was particularly upset seeing the names of women with unborn children on the plaques, which stuck with me the rest of the day.

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We then walked down to Battery Park to stroll and see the Statue of Liberty. I love this shot that I took (almost as much as the other shots I took later that night), because to me, it really encapsulates the city.

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After we had our share of sightseeing, we decided to subway back to Soho for lunch and some shopping. I made a pitstop at Cha Cha Matcha, obviously, and then we had the most incredible brunch at Seamore’s, on Broome St. in Nolita. After lunch, we shopped, and I bought myself obnoxious festival-esque sunnies from Madewell, because I secretly think I’m still 18 years old.

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We had dinner that night at Koi in Bryant Park. I LOVE Bryant Park so much. It’s just steps from the filth of Times Square, but it’s so picturesque. This meal was much better than the previous night, and the crispy rice spicy tuna pictured here was out of this world. It was my second time eating here (third or fourth if you count the times I’ve been to Koi in Vegas), and it did not disappoint. Delicious cocktails and amazing sushi. It’s pricey, but very high quality. After dinner, we chilled in Bryant Park, and then ventured back to the hotel to get ready to hit up a real, actual nightclub.

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This, friends, is the Park, in Chelsea, and yes, it’s just as magical as this picture is. Somehow this beautiful venue, combined with the music and the drinks, compelled this old lady to stay out welllllllll past her 9 pm bedtime. I won’t tell you what time we stayed here until, but I’ll tell you that last call is 4 am in New York.

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Aaaaaand then this was me Sunday morning. I believe the kids call this “ratchet,” yes? I’m never staying out all night again. 9 pm bedtimes FOR.EVER.

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I don’t have a lot of photographic evidence from Sunday, because I was in a special kind of state, but in the morning we wandered through the Upper East Side. I don’t know why. I guess it felt good to get some fresh air after practically pulling an all-nighter, but I felt like garbage. We had lunch at By Chloe, a vegan restaurant I was looking forward to trying, and it was pretty delish, but my stomach wasn’t having ANY of it. In the afternoon, we saw Book of Mormon, and I legitimately laughed straight through the entire 2 and a half hours. It was so ridiculously offensive. Right up my alley!

Sunday evening we laid low, and just grabbed a slice of ‘za and wandered a bit, and Monday we grabbed a bagel for breakfast and ventured out to Central Park for our last morning before our flight home.

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Carbs with a view. The best!

And there you have it! We had the best time, and can’t wait to go back again!

Livin’ for the Long Weekend!

Hiiiiiii! Your girl is back and here to stay! I’m officially off for the summer, and expect to be coming at you pretty regularly for the next two months!

This past weekend was, in a word, magical. It was a perfect combination of rest (but not too much, because #fireworks, rage hulk smash), gluttony, and pretending I enjoy schlepping my kids from activity to activity to entertain them. [side note: I do enjoy it, please don’t judge me.]

Friday night we celebrated my last day of work with carbs, cheese, and cocktails at my favourite restaurant, Scaddabush.

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Green sangria and gnocchi Gorgonzola. Here. For. It.

¬†Also, aren’t my food photography skills improving? To get that one, I actually moved to a vacant table with good lighting. People watched me transporting my meal and normally I’d have been pretty self conscious, but I’m working on developing blinders and not GAF, because to be a blogger in this day and age, you gotta get comfortable talking to your phone in public, working angles for the best shot while people give you weird looks, etc.

Saturday we went to the splash pad with our best friends, and it was a blast! Leetle story about this playdate. While my kids played, I camped out under a tree with my best friend and her baby, and we just chat. I totally ignored my kids, and damn it felt good. I had a brief moment where a tiny voice in my head whispered, “Lauren, have another baby. They play too well independently now. They don’t need you. Find yourself another spawn that needs you.” And for a minute I actually entertained it. Then I burst into maniacal laughter, regained my sanity, and resumed my convo about all the bad decisions I’m going to make in New York City this week on my girls’ trip.

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I dare you to find a look that screams “haute couture” more than this. You wish you could pull off fash-un like this, yes? Truthfully, this mom style moment is brought to you by a solid 5 minutes to get ready, 45 degree humidity, and the known truth that wearing navy blue and black together makes you look like a bruise. (But in all seriousness, I do love me this Aritzia romper, mostly because it eliminates me having to figure out a top and bottom that semi-match. So thanks for that Aritizia!)

Sunday we had a BBQ with friends, which was so adorable. We got so lucky having friends who had a daughter four days after ours, and then a son two months after our son was born. Watching them grow up together has been so sweet!

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All dem blurred faces.

And then Monday we went to Woodbine Center Fantasy Fair, because four days of heat warnings and crazy humidity were really taking a toll on us (us being my hair).

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The sweet moments were all well and great, but I just came for the ice cream.

So there you have it. Installment #1 of the Teacher on Summer Break series. Have a great Tuesday friends! (Especially if your kids are off to camp. Especially especially if that camp is overnight.)

Some Recent Happenings

Hello loyal followers (looking at you, mom)! It’s been tumbleweeds up in here for a few days now, so I thought I’d check in and fill you in on my extraordinarily exciting life.

Let’s talk about having a public Instagram account for a moment, shall we? It’s beyond weird. Other accounts follow you in the hopes you’ll follow back and then unfollow you almost immediately. And weirdos contact you. So. Many. Weirdos. I recently posted a story of me eating a doughnut and I got doughnut shamed! Some guy who allegedly runs marathons according to his account got all up in my DMs and responded to my story with a face palm emoji! Shame on you marathon running guy for being a doughnut shamer! Leave me to eat my white sugar and refined carbohydrates in peace! Can we also talk about the creepers? In the course of a month, I’ve received countless “hellos” from men who legitimately look like serial killers. Thank Gd for the “decline” button.

Annnnnyway, this past weekend I went to Tacofest. It was a personal life highlight for me because my life is sad. And tacos speak to me on a metaphysical level. Here are some pictures. For the record, I’m the shittiest photographer on the planet. Especially when it comes to food. I don’t know how I’m going to hack this blogging thing if I can’t take adequate photos. Thankfully today I met with a former student who does photography, and she helped me with some very basic editing and filters, but I still think I’m hopeless.

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See, horrendous photography. No one needs to see a picture of a churro ejaculating dulche de leche. Hopeless.

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But, on the bright side, this stranger took a lovely photo for us.

So yes, this weekend was hella indulgent (as they usually are in my world), but today I bought something that’s going to keep me youthful and healthy af, which I’m very excited about.

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I’ve been into matcha for a while, but have been spending big bucks buying iced lattes out. Today I commit to an at home set (whisk, bowl and spoon), as well as some high quality matcha from David’s Tea, and I can’t wait to start making my own iced lattes!