journey of doing »

I’m currently on my way home from the AP National Conference where I presented Friday and Saturday.  This has been a bit of an emotional battle for me, as I can’t help but miss my dad, AP Teacher Extraordinaire… but if I’m being completely honest, I’ve missed him desperately for the last two months.   As I mentioned last month, I had to make some really tough work decisions and I desperately missed my sounding board.  Staff retreat didn’t end up the way I hoped it would and I feel like I’ve been in chaos and turmoil ever since.  Summer is almost over, and I’m ashamed to admit how much I’ve cried the past few months.


I had not been to DC since I was in high school.  The first time I went to DC, I fell in love with the city.  I planned to become the first female president.  I aspired to go to college in DC.  I had big dreams.  When we submitted this proposal, I was excited to come back to DC… but if I’m being totally honest, this administration has completely diminished my excitement for being back in my soul city.  They have made so many terrible policy changes that adversely affect the work that I do and the students I serve.

That being said, Congressman Marc Veasey introduced legislation on Thursday that combats some of the problems that were covered in the article that Eric Hoover wrote about our students in the Chronicle last month.  If you want an accurate picture of what my life looks like on a regular basis, read this.

We’ll see what happens with that, but I appreciate his willingness to work towards a solution.


Work Shenanigans

By this time, we would have done principal’s presentation and I’d be waiting for a school list.  Last Tuesday, I was notified that there won’t be a live principal’s presentation this year.  I can submit 10 slides though.  They are due on Tuesday.  Principals will have a week to review and make a decision.  I’ll get a school list in mid-August – the same day training is supposed to start.

I can’t even process that.

I am sure that I will rise to the occasion (I always do), but it feels like things just keep getting harder and harder as I get better and better.  Just once I’d like to feel like the process is fair.

churchill - on politicsP I N I T


Wonder Women

I’m a member of a professional group called Wonder Women.  I’m fortunately to know many of these women in person, and I even get to present with some of them from time to time.  This weekend, I went out to dinner with one of my fellow Wonder Women.  I decided to tell her the truth about how I’ve been feeling lately, and she gave me a lot of really good advice.  Some of the most salient takeaways were to stay true to myself – that our organization had not become what it was without my leadership for the kids.  That I didn’t have to apologize to anyone because of the impact that I’ve been able to make – not only for our students but for all students on a national platform.  Further, she reminded me that not everyone is going to be as good as I am at some things and I need to remember that.  My high expectations for myself may not always translate in the same way – and that’s okay.

I presented with another Wonder Woman who works in a university admissions office that I strongly admire, and she talked to me about the importance of recognizing that people have to do what you ask them to when it comes to doing the work in equity and access.  Not everything can (or will) receive an explanation or a vote.  People need to take ownership of projects and get them done.

As I write this out, it doesn’t feel like it truly encapsulates the conversations, which were, admittedly, very nuanced.  This Winston Churchill quote did echo in my head though.

winston churchill - on glow worms P I N I T The Wonder Women group has been a very free space for us to celebrate each other’s professional accomplishments, talk through the challenges we face, and be each other’s advocates and cheerleaders.  If you don’t have a strong group of professional women to inspire you in your career (whatever it is – that includes you, SAHMs!!), I encourage you to find one.  Finding role models, mentors, and colleagues has helped me not feel so alone in my professional endeavors, and I hope that everyone has that.  I have role models and mentors outside my field as well.  One can learn so much from successful women that we respect and/or admire.

I hope to be back in a real way in August.  I’m going to spend the next day or two figuring out what my intention is for August.  I definitely fell off that bandwagon in April, but I want to be back.  I haven’t felt like myself in months, but I’m ready to get back to that girl.  Glow worm and all.


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  • Kate - I haven’t been to DC since high school either, and am itching to go back! Sending all the hugs as you navigate through this tough time. And love that you’re a part of a Wonder Women group – get it girl!
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Bri @ My Life As - I’ve never been to DC but I would really really love to go! As a social studies teacher, & lover of America I don’t know how I’ve made it nearly 29 years without ever being there!ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - Oh friend, I can’t imagine how difficult things are with the current administration. I know you will keep fighting, though. Love and hugs to you. <3ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - That’s so awesome that you’ve found a great group of women that can be your support system and your mentors! I haven’t found one, but I do feel like I connect with the women at my work which is awesome!ReplyCancel

  • SMD - I know a lot of people not feeling like themselves under this administration – people who don’t have their work tied to the terrible policies. Give yourself some grace. You are good at what you do and you’re not alone.ReplyCancel

  • Biana - I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had such a hard few months!! Thinking of you girl and I know how hard you work and I’m sure your students and staff know that too! xo,Biana-BlovedBostonReplyCancel

  • Christine Keane - I can understand your feeling about visiting DC under this administration. I took Aiden to DC Spring Break 2016 and it was fun, light and he enjoyed it. I really couldn’t imagine visiting DC now. Bad vibes coming from that area lol. But Wonder Women sounds great and something I think we all need in our lives 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I feel for you with regards to your dad. <3.

    I did want to say, though, not to let the current political climate keep you from liking DC. Remember that many in DC are facing "taxation without representation". They don't live in a state, so they didn't get to vote on the president. And, honestly, given the number of marches, rallies, and protests, I feel like they are really doing a lot to have their voice heard. Don't hold the decisions of our government leaders over the city of DC; it's not their fault. 🙂

    I love the idea of Wonder Women. Even though I'm not a part of any group like that, I have definitely seen the difference strong women/mentors can have on your career. If you just know the right person, you can go so much further and do so much more! It's remarkable! I'm glad you are part of such an amazing group. 🙂 I feel like women don't support women enough, so it's nice to hear about groups like this. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Laura - I’m sorry you’re going through an emotional/tough time. I hope you get some rest and some clarity! As frustrating as it is, and feeling like so much is out of your control, there are a bunch of students out there who are so lucky to have you.ReplyCancel

Since we all know social media is curated, I don’t think I need to repeat any disclaimer about that.  If you look at my instagram, you might think I’m permanently on vacation (or living in Italy) and that I always wear dresses.  I thought it might be fun to do a post on a few things that might surprise you about me as a way to get to know me outside of my traveling persona.

journey of doing - things that might surprise you about meP I N I T

Things that Might Surprise You about Me

  • If I’m eating a meal that takes more than 5 minutes to prepare (or eat), I use my wedding china.  Because… honestly, why not?  It’s dishwasher safe, it’s gorgeous, and it makes me feel like I’m… wait for it… eating a real meal.
  • My husband and I rarely go out to dinner.  We might go out to eat maybe once every two months.
  • I really love a good deal.  Yes, I have expensive taste in clothes, housewares and vacations.  (Clothes because they last… vacations because I work too damn hard not to enjoy them.)  Getting a good deal is paramount.  Usually I’ll think that I can get an even better deal and I’ll lose out.  Womp, womp, womp.
  • I have the best of intentions in getting my life organized, but I can’t ever seem to get there.  I’ll get 90% of the way there, something happens, and I allow it to derail all the work I put into getting organized.
  • I drink water 98% of the time.  If I’m having a bad day or need a pick me up at work, I’ll drink a Dr. Pepper.  If we go out to a restaurant, I’m ordering a Shirley Temple.  (Because I’m 5?)  If we’re in Italy, I’m drinking more water than wine, but I’ll splurge occasionally.
  • I think the people I work with are amazing humans.  Seriously – I can’t believe that I get to work with such dedicated individuals who want to change the world.  Even when they move on, I am beyond thankful for the work that they did while they were with us.
  • I don’t mind a curated social media feed.  I find the day-to-day real world pretty depressing these days.  If people want to post what makes them happy, I’m all for it.  You do you.  I love pretty pictures, and I don’t feel bad about it.

Proof That I Don’t Always Take Myself Too Seriously

journey of doing - things that might surprise you about meP I N I T

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  • Christine Keane - Lol, I love your photo-booth pictures! Lyndon and I are the complete opposite and go out to eat way too much! We are trying to get better! And I’m all for a curated social media feed 😉ReplyCancel

  • SMD - I was immediately taken by this title and I want to do one.ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - LOL at living in Italy. I’m with you on the water (although now you totally have me craving a shirley temple) and I don’t mind a pretty curated feed either. I love looking at beautiful pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - If you were to look at my feed right now, it’d be the exact same thing, you’d think that I lived in Hawaii! It’s just fun to show off some of the pictures that you love from all of your trips. Plus, like you said, everybody loves a pretty picture!ReplyCancel

  • cara - Loved this post and learning more about you! I love that you eat your dinner on your wedding china! Why not, right?! Also I kind of feel the same about social media. Seeing depressing world news is well just depressing lol. I love seeing all the pretty pictures. Happy Wednesday!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I LOLed at the Shirley Temple, you be 5 girl! Whatever makes you happy. I think a lot of people feel the way you do about getting organized, it’s hard to finish it out.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - We use our wedding china every day, too! In fact we only really have wedding china. What’s the point of having it if you don’t use it?! People were so generous to give it to us, it would be a shame or it to sit in a box somewhere.

    I’m also the same with organisation. I get to the bit where everything’s a dreadful mess, then get distracted and wander off. I am a terrible completer finisher in general and it’s something I am working hard at!ReplyCancel

  • Kay - I go through bouts of drinking water 98% of the time and I love that! Love these.ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I loved reading this post. No wonder we get along. Shirley temples are the best! (At least occasionally, anyway.) And I’m right there with you, always doubting whether or not I got the best deal. Let’s not even get started on wine vs. water while traveling in places known for their wine. It’s odd, but, even though I like wine, I prefer water. *shrugs* We can’t always live the life featured in our amazing instagrams. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Kris - This was such an insightful and honest post!

    Have an awesome day!
    xx Kris


  • Bethany Carson - This is such a fun post! I’m with you on drinking water all the time. Pretty much the only time I drink something other than water is when there’s no water (argh, I hate it when events only have pop!), when I’m so dead tired but have to stay awake (and drink coffee–almost never), or when I have to dunk cookies in milk.

    Good coworkers are the best. I am *so* glad I work with the team I do: everyone in my company is nice. When I was looking for a job, at one interview I was asked what kind of people I enjoyed working with. Nice people was my response, but they said their employees were kind of grumpy and didn’t get along. I’m so happy I didn’t end up working for them!

    Also, I’m with you on the benefits of a happy/curated social media feed. If I want to see something sad, I can just read the news!ReplyCancel

My friend’s mom makes THE BEST blueberry pie in the entire world.  I attempted to serve it at Christmas, and I DROPPED the pie when pulling it out of the oven.  I almost cried – not because I ruined the dessert – but because I lost part of the pie.  It’s that good.  You know what’s better than that though?  A mini blueberry pie recipe.

Apparently, I have a thing for mini pies.  Remember my mini apple pies from Thanksgiving many moons ago?

Side note: I started doing some organizing and updating of the blog last weekend.  You’ll find a few new landing pages (i.e. my tried and true recipes) and categories.  I’m also thinking about adding more photography tips and tricks – is there anything you want to learn?

I digress.  Today is supposed to be about pie.  A mini blueberry pie recipe at at that – so let’s get to it, shall we?

journey of doing - mini blueberry pie recipeP I N I T

Mini Blueberry Pie Recipe

Mini Blueberry Pies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cups of fresh blueberries
  • ½ teaspoon of grated lemon peel
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons of quick-cooking tapioca
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 boxes of two 9" ready-made piecrust dough
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • Sugar sprinkles (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll out piecrust and use 2.5" round cookie cutter to cut 12 mini pie crusts. Line muffin tins with mini pie crusts. Cut out another 12 circles to use as tops for the pies.
  3. Mix sugar, salt, lemon peel, tapioca, cinnamon and lemon juice in large bowl.
  4. Add blueberries to mixture and stir until coated.
  5. Scoop ¼ cup of pie mixture into each muffin tin.
  6. Cut butter into cubes and dot in muffin tins.
  7. Whisk egg and water to create egg wash for pie tops.
  8. Cut vents into pie top, brush with egg wash. Carefully push pie crust over blueberry mixture and tuck in sides. Add sugar sprinkles, if desired.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until pies become golden brown. Let pies cool for 15 minutes before removing from tin onto cooling rack. If pies stick, run a butter knife along the edge slowly to loosen from muffin tin.

Mini Blueberry Pie Recipe – Notes:

As a personal preference, I prefer to serve blueberry pie when it has cooled completely, and it’s really tasty with vanilla ice cream.  If you wanted to adjust this for a traditional blueberry pie recipe, you would use 4 cups of fresh blueberries instead of 3 and you would only need 2 pie crusts instead of 4.

Also, I am clearly not a food blogger.  Taste has nothing to do with aesthetics.  For pretty pictures of tasty food, check out Jasmine’s blog.  (I’m obsessed with her blog and secretly want to be her.)

journey of doing - mini blueberry pie recipeP I N I T journey of doing - mini blueberry pie recipeP I N I T SaveSave




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  • Stephanie - These are SO cute!!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - These sound so delicious! I have to admit that I’ve never made a pie from scratch before, but I really want to! These should be my first stepping stone!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Food pictures are SO HARD but these look so good. And it’s peak blueberry season in MI right now!ReplyCancel

  • SMD - These look delightful.ReplyCancel

  • cara - Looks so yummy! I love blueberries! Also, I’d love more photography posts. Maybe a series with like a beginner one on basic terminologies and then intermediate with shooting techniques.ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Those look delicious! I love how they are mini so you won’t necessarily break your diet. Assuming you are on one. 🙂 (But then again, how can you resist limiting yourself to just one?)ReplyCancel

For more Arno Postcard Photos

florence postcard photos – 2015, florence postcard photos – 2016

arno postcard posts

For more Florence tips + tricks:

florence travel guide, st. regis florence honeymoon,

st. regis florence river view, pizzale michaelangelo, and honeymoon in florence

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Arno Postcard Photos-7.jpgArno Postcard Photos-8.jpgArno Postcard Photos-9.jpg



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We didn’t intend to spend one night in Siena, but it worked out perfectly.  I thought that we might visit Siena on a day trip from Florence, but the idea of staying right off the campo became irresistible!  That is exactly how we ended up spending one night in Siena in transit between Venice and Florence.

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you book one of these tours.  I only recommend tours I have personal experience with.

journey of doing - one night in siena, italyP I N I T

One Night in Siena, Italy – Where to Stay

La Terrazza sul Campo appeared in my research, and I immediately fell in love with its location.  When I visited Siena during my study abroad semester, I sat on the campo for a long time.  I booked the La Citta di Siena junior suite, and a few days before we arrived, I received an email from Viola with all the details about how to find the hotel.  This proved to be quite useful as our taxi driver had not heard of it.  I showed him the email, and he knew exactly where to go.  We had a short walk through the pedestrian zone, but the hotel was easy to find.  Viola checked us in and gave us an order form for breakfast after escorting us to our room.  (She delivers deliver your custom order to your room at the time you choose!)

La Terrazza sul Campo – La Citta di Siena

First of all, the La Citta di Siena junior suite is huge!  It is easily the size of a small apartment.  There are beautiful frescos on the ceiling and beautiful tiling on the floors, but it’s the windows that open onto the campo that captured my attention.

As far as the bed goes, it is more firm than I expected, but I slept well all the same.  The bathroom is completely renovated and includes both rainhead and handheld showers.  We did not experience any issues with hot water or water pressure.  The amenity basket in the bathroom included every sundry you could possibly want.

The thermostat allowed us to keep the room comfortable without any issue.  There is an in-room tea set that has everything necessary to prepare a cup of  tea.  The room includes a mini-fridge, a sitting area, a desk, and a small table.  I found myself sitting at the table to work, eat breakfast, and people watch on multiple occasions.  It is absolutely magical, and I was sorry that we only spent one night in Siena!

journey of doing - one night in siena, italyP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in siena, italyP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in siena, italyP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in siena, italyP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in siena, italyP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in siena, italyP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in siena, italyP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in siena, italyP I N I T One Night in Siena, Italy – What to Do

Best Overview of Siena

Siena Walking Tour – We arrived in Siena around 12:30pm, checked into our hotel, and by 1:20, we were waiting for our guide in the campo.  This tour is a great introduction to the city!  After learning more about the campo and its role in the Palio, our guide led us to one of the contrade museums. There, we enjoyed seeing historical Palio costumes, flags, and tapestries depicting the win of a particular contrade.  It is an incredible look into the history of Siena and its “neighborhood” pride!

She showed us some beautiful views of the Tuscan countryside before following the winding narrow streets around to the Siena Duomo and finishing the tour at the basilica of Saint Maria dei Servi.  We did not have trouble keeping up with our guide, but there were older people who struggled with the hills, so if you have limited mobility, this may not be the tour for you.

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

Siena Duomo

The Siena Duomo is incredible.  There’s no other way to describe it.  Thirteen years ago, I was entranced by its starry ceilings.  I was no less enraptured with it on this trip, but I was surprised to see all the gold.  I didn’t remember that part from my previous adventure.  We took advantage of the audioguide offered by the basilica, which was great, but it was a little long for the late afternoon.  I suggest doing it earlier in the day or first thing in the morning.

You can purchase tickets in the office across from the Duomo, but the audioguide is purchased in the cathedral.  We did not wait in line at all in the late afternoon.  Even thought we only had one night in Siena, we made a second trip early Sunday morning to appreciate it without the large crowds.  I cannot even imagine how big it would have been if it had been completed.

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

Enjoy the Campo

I’ll admit it.  We’re big square people.  We love to grab meals from the grocery store and people watch.  Siena (and its campo) was no exception.  There’s a fantastic market to the right of the clock tower, and we made multiple trips there.  We spent blue hour here, and the blue contrasting against the siena brick was gorgeous.  Before heading back to our hotel for the night, we picked up gelato and made another stroll around the campo.  We spent the predawn hour here.  It was empty until around 10:00 on Sunday morning, so get up early to enjoy the city without so many tourists!  (Oh, the daytrippers!)

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T Walk Around the Old City Walls

We had hoped to visit the synagogue in Siena, but it wasn’t open early enough on Sunday.  They have a particularly touching monument to the individuals who were lost in the Holocaust on a nondescript street in front of the synagogue.  From there, we chose to follow the old city walls around Siena.  This provides beautiful views and a look into daily life (it was Palm Sunday for us!).  We found the entire old city to be very well preserved.  I encourage you to duck into courtyards, watch for churches (there are many!), and enjoy the scenery.  It is the perfect way to see more of Siena than the Duomo.

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T

journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T journey of doing - one night in SienaP I N I T One Night in Siena, Italy – Where to Eat

I’m going to cheat on this – I’ve only got one recommendation and it’s not actually a restaurant!  We had a really terrible dinner.  Because Americans don’t enjoy meat cooked the same way as the Italians, we ended up with a completely inedible bistecca.  Sad!!

We did, however, discover La Proscuitteria, which was celebrating its grand re-opening.  It was CRAZY.  And – it is delicious.  (We even hit up the one in Florence twice.)  They created the most delicious open-faced sandwiches using fresh bread, olive oil, proscuitto and poppy seeds!  I cannot recommend this place enough.  My mouth waters every time I think about it!   This is a great place for lunch, a snack, or a light dinner.  (It is not a full service restaurant.  It’s part of a chain, but it is tasty.)

Wanderful WednesdayP I N I T

Linking up for #WanderfulWednesday

Isabel, Marcella, Vanessa, Lauren






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  • Lorelle - Tuscany has so many gorgeous towns. We never got to go to Siena unfortunately…maybe next time 😉 Great post and pics Sara

  • Jasmine - You always capture the most beautiful photos, Sara!ReplyCancel

  • Christine Keane - What a beautiful stopover! We took a train from Venice to Florence too but since our time was going to be so short in Florence, we didn’t stop anywhere. I wish we did though, Siena looks so beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Lolo - (I think your photos are too big, or there are too many but they aren’t loading on my computer..)

    Anyways, Siena is high on my list and I love reading travel chic-lit that take place in Siena! #WanderfulWednesdayReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Siena is gorgeous! I just book four nights for my family in Siena and I cannot wait. I spent some time at an agriturismo just outside the city a few years ago and it was the most beautiful (and tasty) trip I think I’ve ever had. However we didn’t spend much time in the city itself so your photos have gotten me excited to see it again and really explore the city!ReplyCancel

  • Biana - And now I need to plan a trip to Siena immediately!! The hotel you stayed in looked beautiful – I love the modern boutque-y touches!! You’ve sold me a trip there!ReplyCancel

  • Ruth | Tanama Tales - I haven’t been to Siena yet. So sad since the city is gorgeous. I king of default to stay in big cities but a lot of times my best travel memories come from staying in small cities and towns. I would love to stay in Siena. #wanderfulwednesdayReplyCancel

  • Bryna | Dotted Line Travels - Ah, so jealous! I was only in Siena for a few hours and I definitely would like to go back for me. The Duomo looks so beautiful, and the view from where you stayed- wow!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - That window, with that view, is the stuff dreams are made of! Thank you for this lovely tour around the city. It’s so beautiful! My husband and I went on a day trip there on our honeymoon, and the clock tower at the university we met at is modelled on the palace in the campo, so that was pretty cool.

    I can’t get over those shots of the duomo! Those colours!!ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa Brune - Siena looks so gorgeous!! I’d love to do a walking tour there and take in all the views – especially at night!!ReplyCancel

  • Jessi (Two Feet, One World) - Stunning shots! I particularly love the golden light in the evening and early morning. You’ve got me sold on staying there! #wanderfulwednesdayReplyCancel