About Falon Ballard

Posts by Falon Ballard:

Restaurant Review: Napa Rose

If you are at all hungry, you might want to avoid this post. Instead of doing Christmas presents for each other, the hubs and I decided to put present money into a really awesome date night out. After checking out the plethora of fancy restaurants in LA, I stumbled upon the duh choice: Napa Rose. It’s delicious, it’s Disney, and it’s on my 30 by 40 list. Bingo! I made our reservation toward the end of December and the first available date that worked with our crazy schedules happened to be Valentine’s Day weekend. We’re not big on V-Day, but it worked out to be a nice weekend to go. So we sent Squirt off to Grandma’s and headed down to the OC. We got there a little early, but the hostess informed us we could go get a cocktail on the patio. I had never noticed the patio before, even though you can see it from California Adventure. It has a fire pit and quite a few seats and there is a server stationed out there. Apparently it is open seating so you can go enjoy a drink there even if you aren’t eating in the restaurant. We will definitely be hitting up the patio in the future, especially during the summer.

Anyway, we were shown to our table pretty quickly and our waitress came over and explained the concept of the menu, which changes on a regular basis depending on seasonal offerings. We were pretty entranced by the menu as everything sounded delicious.

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The hubs finally decided on the filet, which he was kind enough to give me a bite of. It practically melted in my mouth…

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I went with the pork, for two reasons: one, I like pork. And two, it came with a bacon tater tot. We joked that the next time we were going to have a date night we were going to order a dozen tots and a bottle of wine. And if they would let me, I totally would.

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We also shared a side of the truffle mac n cheese, for obvious reasons. It was as delicious as you would expect.

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The one thing I wasn’t 150% impressed with was the dessert menu. I was in for the splurge so I was hoping for something really decadent and everything was pretty light. We ordered this apple pecan goodness and it was tasty, but not the best dessert I’ve ever had. I prefer chocolate. Always.
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Everything at Napa Rose is pretty flawless, from the service and the drinks, to the amazing food. We are clearly not going to be eating there on a regular basis given the hefty price tag, but it was a pretty awesome choice for a special date night out. I would highly, highly recommend eating there at least once if you can. It is worth the splurge!

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Life Right Now

Hello my lovely readers and welcome to another version of my Life Right Now. “Turmoil” seems like kind of a harsh word, but that’s pretty much the state of things these days. I am coming up on the busiest time at school with all of our drama productions, and engagement season is coming to a close and wedding season is about to kick off. Oh, and I’m preparing to leave teaching and coordinate weddings full time. That’s not terrifying at all. So it’s a hectic time, but an exciting one! Here’s the happs…

Making all kinds of stuff for a bridal show I am attending next weekend. Spray paint and glitter are everywhere!
Drinking alcohol has actually taken a backseat as I try to lose the twenty pounds the stress of this school year has packed on me. Still lots of coffee though. Always coffee.
Reading some fun and brainless books to relax me at night. Just finished Night Circus and Girl Boss, both of which were fab.
Wanting to feel secure in my new career path.
Playing the Hamilton album on repeat.
Wishing the school year was over!

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Falon B Weddings is in full swing! I’ll be at the Knollwood Country Club Bridal Show next weekend!

 

Enjoying the return of my favorite shows. In particular, How to Get Away with Murder, Survivor and The People’s Couch.
Waiting for summer!!!!
Liking this random burst of cold weather/rain we’re getting this weekend.
Wondering how life as an entrepreneur is going to treat me.
Loving hanging with my little dude.
Hoping career stuff works out the way I want it to.
Needing a massage.  For reals.
Wearing some summer stuff and then some winter stuff because that’s how So Cal rolls.

Coffee for days!

Coffee for days!

 

Following lots of pretty wedding people on my new Instagram, @falonbweddings.
Noticing that the terrible two’s may be visiting us early, tantrums for days.
Knowing that everything will work out in the end.
Thinking about finances, and advertising, and taxes…the joys of starting a business.

One day he is going to hate me for putting pictures like this on the internet.

One day he is going to hate me for putting pictures like this on the internet.

 

Anticipating all of my upcoming weddings!
Celebrating any and all of my wedding coordinating successes.
Laughing at The People’s Couch. One of the best and most underrated shows on TV.
Feeling stressed, grateful, tired, anxious, and hopeful.

Always thankful for this guy who supports me no matter what!

Always thankful for this guy who supports me no matter what!

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DIY: No Sew Infinity Scarf

This post contains affiliate links.

Hello friends and welcome to another super easy DIY tutorial! Crazily enough, as soon as I figured out this bad boy, winter ended and we have since been enjoying eighty degree days here in So Cal. I’m not super sad about that, but I am hoping for another round of colder temps so I can rock this bad boy some more! Here’s what we are making today:

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Not only is the project super easy, but it only requires a couple of supplies. You will need fabric of your choice (this one is felt, which is nice and warm, but still sturdy), fabric glue and fabric scissors. The first step is to cut your fabric. I measured an infinity scarf I already had that was a good length for me to get the measurements I wanted. I cut my fabric to be 20 inches wide by 64 inches long.

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Fold the fabric in half lengthwise (taco style, as the kids say), with the right side of the fabric on the inside.

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Use the fabric glue to attach the edge, basically creating one super long tube. Make sure you give the fabric glue plenty of time to dry. That is essential to the success of this project!

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Once the glue is dry, turn the long tube inside out so the right side of the fabric facing out.

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Take the ends of the tube and bring them together. Tuck the inside of one end into the other.

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Glue the ends of the tube together, and again, make sure you give the glue plenty of time to dry. Now it is time to rock your new scarf! Loop the scarf around your neck, making sure the seam is in the back.  This scarf is perfect for a chilly day in the parks, and the bonus is that you can make so many different scarves based on your fabric preferences. I also made a Star Wars one and I’m planning on trying some thinner fabrics for spring time!

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Hopefully I get another chance to wear this adorable Mickey print scarf before summer is upon us, but if not, I will be busting it out as soon as winter comes again next year!

Here are some products similar to those I used in this project:


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Sponsored Post: Multiple Uses for the Mini Buddha Board

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated in the form of a product, discount, or monetary fee to write this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Hello friends! Today I have a super cool product to share with you, along with some really fun and unique ways you can use it. I was given the opportunity to review the Mini Buddha Board, and to be honest, I had never heard of it before. But it sounded intriguing so I decided to give it a shot and see what it was all about. The Mini Buddha Board is an awesome tool for so many different things, and the amazing thing is how little it requires to make some magic. Each Mini Buddha Board comes with a brush and has a built in water tray (though as you can see I like to use a small glass of water instead).

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One of the main ways I have been using the Mini Buddha Board is in the mornings when I am enjoying my 2.5 seconds of peace before Squirt wakes up. I think about the things I want to accomplish throughout the day and pick a word that embodies those goals. Sometimes it is something tangible, like “organize”, but a lot of the time it is a word that is an idea or state of mind, like “focus”. It’s so easy to use the Buddha Board, you just dip the brush in the water and paint/write directly on the board. I love that it gives me a visual cue to focus on as I think about my goals for the day (and drink my coffee, obvs.). After a few minutes, the water dries and my word disappears. Then I go about my day, making sure I am constantly thinking back and reflecting on my daily word.

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I’ve also started to use the Mini Buddha Board to help Squirt learn his letters. I use the brush to write a letter on the board and then together we trace the letter, talk about how it sounds, and talk about words that start with the letter.

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As the water dries and the letter begins to fade, we talk about what letter comes next in the alphabet and then we move on to the next letter. Squirt really loves watching the letters fade, as it seems like “magic”.

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There are a lot of things that make the Mini Buddha Board a great learning tool, and one is that it doesn’t create excess waste. If we were writing each letter out on its own piece of paper and then throwing them all away, that would create a huge amount of wasted paper. But because the board is reusable, we eliminate that waste but still get the benefits of writing the letters. In addition, the Buddha Board is totally safe, non-toxic, and doesn’t make a huge mess everywhere. Squirt likes to touch the letters on the board, and when he does and the water smears, it leaves no residue on his hands. As a parent, the purity of the water as ink is something that I really love.

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We have been having so much fun coming up with new and different ways to use our Mini Buddha Board. It has become a favorite of everyone in our household and is used daily by almost all of us. I am looking forward to seeing all the ways we can use the board as Squirt gets older. There is unlimited potential with the Mini Buddha Board and it is a product I highly recommend for every family!

Product Disclaimer: This product is intended for ages 5 and up. Parents should always supervise young children when using the Mini Buddha Board. Touching the Mini Buddha Board with anything other than the brush (i.e. fingers) could potentially damage the board. Avoid touching the board with fingers to prevent transfer of oils.

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Sponsored Post: The Importance of Recognition in the Workplace

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated in the form of a product, discount, or monetary payment to write this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This post is being sponsored by Sodexo, the worldwide leader in Quality of Life Services.

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Alright my lovely readers, you know I never lie to you, and today’s topic is one that has had a real impact on me over the past two years, which means it is about to get really real up in here. I went through a lot of career related changes two years ago. The school where I teach got a new principal and I also started working part-time so I could stay home with my son. To supplement my income, I started taking on a lot more weddings to coordinate and expanded my business. Over the past two years, my teaching position has really shown me what it is like for employees who go unrecognized in the workplace (which I had never experienced before), while on the flip side, my wedding coordinating business has shown me just how rewarding work can be when appreciation is shown for a job well done.

I’m not going to go into tons of details about how much my teaching job has sucked the past two years. Suffice to say that despite the fact that I run a thriving theater program (one that is continually ranked in the top ten in Southern California), that does not equal greatness in the eyes of my administration. I can’t even remember the last time one of them complimented me and the work that I do. And, surprise surprise, I will be leaving teaching and my program at the end of the school year. However, what I really want to talk about today is the good stuff, the positive feedback I have gotten in the past as a teacher and how it impacted my teaching experience.

My first six years of teaching were by no means easy. I started teaching in the heart of the recession and worked my first five years without a single raise. The number of teachers who quit within the first three years (whether in a recession or not) is staggering, and yet I stuck with it, without any financial gain. And I did that because I loved my job. And I loved my job because I felt appreciated. Students are not always great at showing their appreciation for teachers, especially when they are teenagers, as I taught. But when they do show their appreciation, it is so heartfelt and meaningful. I have saved every single letter and card a student has written to me for the past eight years of my career. So yeah, I was making crappy money and had forty students in my classroom and no supplies except for the ones I paid for myself, but I felt like I was good at my job because my students told me that I was.

I had only been teaching for two years before I was asked to join my school’s Professional Development team. Just being asked was recognition in itself and it pushed me to work harder and be a good leader. Recognition can be hard to come by in a school environment. There are no bonuses you can earn, and the one real award (Teacher of the Year) is given to one teacher per year per school. It should probably go to about twenty teachers per year per school. While recognition from the students can be the most meaningful, school administrators can’t rely on kids and teenagers to be providing the encouragement needed to teachers. There are some really awesome ways for teachers to feel appreciated by their peers and I have seen many of them make a real difference in the culture of a school and the motivation of its staff. Many schools do an informal teacher of the month award that is typically passed out at staff meetings. At our school we have Rave Reviews, where anyone on staff can submit a quick thank you to someone who has done something helpful for them. Reviews are then read at the staff meeting and each person gets a small prize like candy or hand sanitizer (teacher essentials). These are small but impactful ways for teachers to feel recognized, which leads to happier teachers. Happier teachers are going to work harder, and that is good for everyone.

As teachers, we are taught that students need to hear more positive feedback than negative if we want them to improve. We are given tricks like the compliment sandwich (one compliment, one piece of constructive criticism, another compliment) to use with our students. The problem comes when administrators don’t use these tools with their teachers. We use them with students because they work, and that is a principle principals (see what I did there?) should keep in mind themselves. Most of the recognition I have seen at schools is teachers appreciating other teachers, and while that is awesome, it is not the same as recognition that comes from a boss.

There are countless studies that show how much more productive happy employees are and the detriments of ignoring hard-working employees. The benefits of employee recognition are undeniable, 81% of employees say they work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. Luckily, there are now services that can help companies and schools, and their leaders, create a working environment that is positive and healthy for its employees. Sodexo is the leading provider of these services and they are committed to a better quality of life for employees. Without the recognition that I feel like I deserve, my quality of life has dropped, and because of that, I will be leaving my job in the next few months. Teachers in particular do not expect much, and I am a great example of how a few compliments could have made a huge difference. I truly hope that with the help of companies like Sodexo, and maybe even this post, there will be a conversation about the recognition of teachers. It’s great when it comes from students and their parents, and even other teachers, but it needs to come from administrators too.

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DIY: Turn Recycled Bottles into Pretty Vases

Hello lovely readers and happy Monday (is there such a thing?)! Yesterday was a pretty miserable So Cal day–lots of rain and clouds and cold. Boo. Being stuck inside all day puts me in the mood for crafting and I have had this project on my to do list for a loooooong time. So I figured I might as well knock that shizz out. Here’s what we’re making today:

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Super easy project, and I love how they came out! First step to these bad boys is to gather your supplies: old bottles (these are from a probiotic water called Kevita, which should be available in most supermarkets), craft paint, painters tape, and round sponge brushes.

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Tape off your bottles however you want your design to come out. I kind of went with a random diagonal deal for these, which turned out fun.

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Make sure your tape is super tightly sealed. It helps to run a fingernail over the edge a few times to make sure it is really smooth. Then use the brush to dab on the paint. I only had to do two coats before I was satisfied with the coverage.

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Once the paint is mostly dry, carefully remove your tape. If you need to clean up any edges, a wet wipe works, or you can use a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover.

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I put some white hydrangeas in my finished vases. I love how the bright colors pop against all the white.

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I literally finished these bad boys in less than a half hour last night. This was a super easy project, and there are tons of color possibilities with this one. You could do Valentine’s Day colors or Christmas colors, or just any happy and fun colors that you love.

Check out the following links (affiliate links) for some of the supplies I used to make these!

 

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My Favorite Back to School Items–Disney Style

This post contains affiliate links.

It’s hard to believe it is that time of year again, but school is starting soon!  As a teacher, I am both excited for and dreading this time of year.  No more sleeping in, but a chance to meet new students and get back to work.  One thing that makes going back a little easier for me is the chance to grab the latest adorable school supplies.  These are my favorite Disney themed supplies for the kids (or if you are like me, for the teachers!).  Click on the image to be taken to the product listing!

Backpacks:


Pens and Pencils:

Pencil Cases:

Apparel:

With all these super cute goodies, going back to school will be a breeze!  Happy new school year!

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