Tuesday, October 30, 2012

{travel} teaching english as a foreign language

Hi pretty friends!

I am writing today to tell you more about the program I will be starting in approximately two months. (ahhh!)

Every time I tell an interested friend or stranger what I will be doing with my life for the next year, the reaction is always the same: "WHAT?! Wow! What an awesome opportunity. I wish I could do something like that!" Well friends... I'm here to tell you that you can!

My senior year of college was filled with uncertainties. I had no idea what I wanted to be 'when I grew up.' I switched between multiple different professions constantly. Did I want to get my PhD in counseling psychology? Did I just want to get my masters? But wait... did I want to do school counseling or school psychology? Or maybe I just want to teach? I had two promising interviews in the spring, a final interview with Teach For America & one with the Americorps for a teaching position in Tampa. Neither panned out. At this point, I had nothing but disappointment to lean back on. However, going through the interview process with those two incredible organizations did tell me one thing - I wanted to teach, and that was final.

In April (my graduation month), I started to obsessively check my university's career board. I figured I would just find some full-time job in Tampa while I collected my thoughts and figured out everything I would need to apply for a master's program in elementary education. I began to notice multiple postings for programs that certified you to teach English as a foreign language in Asia and Europe. As I sat there reading the information, I remembered that I knew some people a few years ahead of me in school who did exactly that. One friend did it in South Korea and another in Spain. I messaged them both on Facebook & anxiously awaited their responses with feedback on their programs. Both had nothing but wonderful things to say about the countries they lived in and the programs that went through.

I was still a little skeptical to up and move to a foreign country all on my own. Luckily, I convinced a good friend from high school to go with me. My parents were 100% behind my decision. It was time to start reaching out to different organizations to see which one would be the best for me. In the end, Breanne and I decided to go with the program that my friend Alexis went through - TtMadrid. We researched others in Spain, Italy, and France, but none of them seemed to completely match up to everything that TtMadrid offered.

We will be enrolled in a 4-wk intensive TEFL training course where we will have to create lesson plans, practice our teaching methods, and participate in a final examination with the board at the program. After graduation from our course, TtMadrid will send our resumes out to their wide connection of TEFL hiring agencies. We will also be enrolled in cultural activities and clases de espanol for 10 full months with a school called AIL Madrid.

From the moment that Breanne & I contacted TtMadrid, they have been nothing but helpful and supportive. We just completed out student visa process and purchased our plane tickets. Weeee! I cannot wait to keep y'all updated on my journey with this program. While I am there, I will be applying to graduate programs back in the US. Everything is falling into place.

Just think about a gap year to travel, make money, and build your resume at the same time. If that sounds like something you would be interested in, then I highly recommend you look into doing this. :)

Please, if you have ANY questions, email me at cookingloveandlife@gmail.com. I would love to post about my student visa process if anyone is interested in really looking into this program, or any other TEFL program.

xo, Jen

PS. I am 100% not a paid representative of this company. All opinions and information presented are personally from me.

Monday, October 29, 2012

{life} motto: #rollwiththepunches

Have you ever noticed entire weekends taking on a theme? This weekend did EXACTLY that. I won't get into details... but really. Sometimes you've just gotta roll with the punches.

I drove up to Tallahassee on Thursday and was just bursting at the seams to get there. I got to meet my beautiful Great-Great Grandlittle. Sheesh. Missing from this picture is my big & grandbig. Casey is my great grandbig. Yeah.... we're a pretty tight fam. :) After dinner with my entire fam, I sketched on over to my favorite bar in Tallahassee- Proof! Lots of fun was had.

Friday afternoon I went to lunch with two of my old roommates. This one here is Lauren. I lived with her sophomore and junior year. :) After lunch I went to visit my favorites babies in the entire world - my Kindergarten Clubbers from my job senior year. 

Next stop was the happiest of hours at Potbelly's. 

Then we headed on over to Downtown Get Down for some live music and more drinks. I met up with a bunch of my coworkers from the after school program. Pretty much the coolest coworkers around.

Woke up bright and early Saturday morning for gameday festivities! We stopped by the house first for the alumni breakfast and then started to tailgate hop.

Morgs and I may or may not have had the best idea ever. Mimosas to-go y'all!

The weather was absolutely perfect for the game. A little bit of sun, a little bit of clouds, lots of breeze, & dropping temperatures. Couldn't have asked for anything more.

It was a Saturday filled with a Florida State victory and a Gator loss. See ya in a few weeks boys!

The weekend was simply not long enough, but I can't wait for our next reunion in December. :)

Have a great week!

xo, Jen

Thursday, October 11, 2012

{recipe} peanut butter banana oatmeal

Meet my new favorite breakfast.

The oatmeal is naturally sweetened with peanut butter, a slightly caramelized banana, some delicious fall spices, and vanilla extract. Chia seeds thicken the oatmeal and make this morning treat even more filling and nutritious. You should enjoy this sitting on your porch or patio with a cup of coffee like I did this morning. Bonus points for bringing your Kindle along.

PB & Banana Oatmeal:
Recipe by Oh She Glows
One serving


  • 1 large ripe banana, peeled & roughly chopped. (I used a frozen banana - let thaw for a few minutes if you do!)
  • 1 tsp butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp chia seeds (or ground flax)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • toppings: anything your heart desires! I sprinkled sliced almonds and granola, and drizzled honey on mine.
*Make it easier to make in the morning by combining oats, spices, salt, and chia seeds in a bowl the night before.

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, cook banana in the butter or oil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Stir in 1/2 tbsp peanut butter, and then add oats, chia, spices, a pinch of salt, and milk. Whisk well until combined.
  3. Bring to a low boil and then reduce heat to a simmer, stirring often for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Scoop into bowl, add toppings, and enjoy!

Other breakfast recipes from around the web that I am craving:

What is your favorite breakfast? 

xo, Jen

Saturday, October 6, 2012

{life} get informed

The 2012 presidential election is just one month away. Are you informed? Whether your views are right wing, left wing, or right in the middle, it is important to research just exactly what you are voting on. I will admit that in 2008, as a college freshman, I had noooo idea what most of the issues were or the stances the presidential candidates took on them. I decided this year to change that. I vied to be an informed voter in the beautiful country I call home.

I know that it has certainly been tough wading through the muck that is political journalism. I found a quiz online that I encourage each of you to take that helped open my eyes to the views on both sides. Don't be intimidated if you aren't sure what some of the questions are asking. I utilized Google to help clear some of my own questions up.

Click here to access the quiz.

As my best friend put it yesterday, "That was quite interesting! I need to do a lot of research. It puts in perspective that the average person has no idea what each party/person supports. Or what some of the topics even mean."

It is more important than ever to take an active role in our futures.

Did you miss the first debate? Click here to watch the video and read the script with NY Times' fact checks.

Catch the VP nominee debate on October 11 at 9:00 ET.
The second Presidential nominee debate is on October 16 at 9:00 ET.
The final Presidential nominee debate is on October 22 at 9:00 ET.

Love y'all.

Friday, October 5, 2012

{fashion} add dimension

I am an avid cardigan collector. Not just any cardigans. The cardigans I love most come with a little red Target clearance sticker. Target flats may tear my feet up, but their cardigans are incredibly soft and versatile. I've recently been trying to amp up my cardigan outfits. While this is far from "original," it definitely helped to get me out of my plain ol' cardigan and jeans rut. 

PS. Let's talk about these jeans, shall we? They are soooooo incredibly comfortable. I am so proud of myself for finally purchasing a pair of 'boyfriend jeans.' I have little chicken legs, so normally bottoms do not fit very well. Especially not bottoms that are created for the sole purpose of looking baggy. Enter the Loft "Slim Boyfriend" jeans. I'm in love. They still have the relaxed look of the boyfriend fit, but are more tailored for my skinny little legs.

Adding a chunky necklace and belt around my waist helps to pull this outfit away from a typical cardigan ensemble. Can I tell you a sad little secret? I got "dressed up" to go sit in Starbucks and internet stalk apartments in Madrid. I never thought I would miss studying and homework so much. I have zero things to do with my free time besides read my Kindle. Agh. 

The Goods:

Cardigan: Target, similar.
Tank: Target, similar.
Jeans: Loft, $79.95
Flats: Target, $14.99
Belt: Ann Taylor, $34.00
Necklace: Loft, $39.95

Have a great rest of your day!

xo, Jen

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

{fashion} three fall looks

As y'all know very well by now, I shouldn't technically be wearing ANYTHING fall-like right now. I actually layed out by my pool in a bikini the other day. Um. Hi summer. Luckily, working in retail allows me a little outlet to rock fall trends in cool, air conditioned comfort.

Here a few outfits I put together to wear to work over the last week.

Ponte knit makes my world go 'round. These are "leggings" you can get away with without being judged. ;) It is a stretchy, comfy material that is much thicker than leggings and resembles actual pants. They are perfect to wear with flats, boots, and heels! 

{ponte perfection}
Top: Forever 21 (a while ago)
Ponte: Loft, $64.99
Flats: Payless (best kept secret right there)
Necklace: Dillards (gift)

I adore animal prints right now! We have a ton of cute giraffe, tortoise shell, and leopard items in the store currently. This top is actually from Loft from a milllllion years ago, but I'll show ya something similar! Peplum is another super cute fall trend this year. I don't own any actual peplum tops, but putting a belt around your waist with a pencil skirt creates the same shape with much more versatility!

{animal print peplum madness}
Top: Loft, OLD. Similar pattern: Paved Texture Printed Popover Camp Shirt.
Cardigan: Target
Skirt: Target
Shoes: BCBG, found at TJMAXX
Belt: Came with a dress?

[Check out the shirts in the top two pictures worn for a different look in this blog post.]

I saved my most recent obsession for last. This camel wool skirt will be PERFECT to transition from the warmer months to the colder. I can't wait to wear it in Spain during the remainder of their winter with tights, boots, and a coat. This outfit is incredibly comfortable but still looks put-together.

{fall in love with wool}
Top: Forever 21, old
Scarf: World Market
Skirt: Ann Taylor, $98
Boots: Ciao Bella, $99
Tights: ???
Watch: Anne Klein (gift)
Bracelet: Alex & Ani (gift)

I have been loving how much my job has made me utilize the clothes already in my closet to create different looks that I normally would not have thought of previously. I hope I have inspired you to do the same!

xo, Jen

Monday, October 1, 2012

{seasons} hello october

October means the beginning of the wonderful holiday season. It means changing leaves, crisper air, and cute seasonal decorations. Colder football games and snuggling up in sweaters and boots. Pumpkins, squash, and cinnamon brooms at the grocery store. Chili simmering in the crockpot and banana bread in the oven.

I'm not sure there is much else better than a beautiful fall day in NYC. Pictures from last November. :)

Here are a few cute ideas I found on Pinterest for the beginning of the fall season.

Place two bundt cakes together and add orange icing for the perfect pumpkin cake. {source}

Create the cutest fall porch decorations like Sand and Sisal.

This easy appetizer by Family Fresh Meals is adorable and is sure to be a hit. 

This is a cute hostess gift to give to friends at halloween parties, by Munchkin Munchies.

Place candy corn inside clear vases for an easy & gorgeous candle display. {source}

No fall post would be complete without a little dog costume action. {source}

Roast some pumpkin seeds for a crunchy, addictive snack. {source}

Break out those boots, tights, scarves, animal prints, and ponte knits & get ready for FALL!

Want to see more fall inspiration? Follow my seasonal autumn board.

xo, Jen