Saturday, November 24

' Tis the Season... for Procrastination?

Yes... yes, I have a project and lesson plans to do.... However, it is the holiday season.  

Holiday Season > Lesson Plans + Projects
...and as a result of that equation, I present you with this:
I am obsessed with the new digital scrapbook paper I got from moo&puppy's Etsy shop.  I'd say 99% of the fonts I used are from Kevin & Amanda's free font downloads.  

I guess that means my break is over... back to work!

Wednesday, November 21

Having a Ball...

WHOA! this whole student teaching and working right after thing is exhausting... and time consuming (proven by my lack of blog posts!)  Since it's student teaching taking up so much of my time, I figured I'd write about my placements especially because I have a lovely four day weekend! GOBBLE, GOBBLE!

For those of you who don't know the craziness that is student teaching, let me break it down for you.  For one whole semester (end of August to mid-December) I work with a cooperating teacher in an actual public school... unpaid :/ and have an advisor that comes and observes my teaching (don't even get me started on these advisors... let's just say they aren't so great at being on time... or even showing up in some cases).  Half of the semester is at one school, usually urban, and the other half is at another school, usually suburban.  My first placement was with fourth grade.  My second, and current, placement is in fifth grade... (usually one is placed in a grade 1-3 class and then a grade 4-6 class, however, I think it can be based on who has openings so I ended up with 4 & 5).  My background is working with younger kids because I have worked in daycares/preschools since highschool... a total of ten years!  I was a pre-k teacher for two years, and then I was a reading specialist working with 3-6 year olds.

Let me tell you, I was terrified to go to fourth grade...  I imagined fourth graders to be evil, unruly, disrespectful demons... haha, I'm exaggerating... kinda.  Well, what do ya know, I LOVED my fourth grade placement.  I could totally see myself working with fourth graders.  They are still mostly innocent kids, but they also have a level of independence that the younger kids don't always have (although, I did have a few pre-kindergarteners that I could say, "hey, can you get me that thing on the thing over there and they'd know exactly what I was talking about).  I really got along with my cooperating teacher too.  Every other week, I'd go to class with my fellow student teachers and I'd hear horror stories about their placements, but I was loving life.  My cooperating teacher and I have the same strict, but fun discipline mentality and because of that, the classroom ran really well.  I really miss those guys!  If we could have co-taught, it would have been awesome!

Now I am in fifth grade... hmm, what's that saying? "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"... cricket cricket...

Haha... just kidding... again... kinda.  Fifth grade is a lot different from fourth grade.  The students are very chatty, and not always as respectful as I'd like.  I understand that I have come into their classroom after most of the classroom management rules have been established... and I know it is a different school, but I can't really see myself teaching fifth grade... so, I suppose I am thankful for figuring that out now.  I am not saying that if I am offered the opportunity to teach fifth grade I won't, but if I ever have a chance to choose (ba haha), fifth grade would not be my first choice.   If I do ever end up teaching fifth grade, a big chunk of the beginning of the year will be spent on classroom management!

So, what have I learned from student teaching so far?
  • Classroom management is SO IMPORTANT... spend a lot of time on it!
  • Be firm, but fun... right from the beginning.
  • I secretly want a pair of hot pink & black Jordans... but I totally can't rock them.
  • Kids can dance better than me.
  • I'm obsessed with making worksheets & EVERYTHING on Microsoft Word! (who am I kidding I have always loved this, but lessons give me a purpose).
  • Take advantage of the teachable moments.
  • Fist fights happen... (between students, not teachers and students!)
  • Some lessons will be longer than you think... and others will be a lot shorter.
  • I suck at time management!
  • Be prepared & organized.
  • Other people are a little OCD about cute organizational things, just like me!
  • Laugh at yourself.
  • Breathe...
  • Not everything is a big deal, you've got to let some things go.  
  • I am going to kick ass as a teacher... it's definitely what I want to do (phew, I don't have to rob a bank and start working on another degree).  
Okay enough words, how about some pictures?!
Get it?! Having a BALL...

Chocolate covered Oreo basketballs and baseballs and chocolate covered strawberry footballs. 

What do these things have to do with student teaching?! I made these little gift bags and chocolate goodies for my fourth grade students and cooperating teacher.  The classroom had a sports theme, so I went along with that.  I think the corny sayings give it that extra oomph!

I already have my idea for my fifth graders (who, I must admit, are growing on me a little more each day), but that will be for another post... after I actually make them!

I'm feeling generous... here are the sports gift bag labels fo' free!  Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Saturday, September 29

Freckles & Cat Eyes

Makeup is an obsession of mine.  In particular, Urban Decay eye shadow palettes.  I have way too many... I am almost embarrassed to admit how many... AND THEN they had a sale on individual shadows... so I had to buy those too (I can't pass up a sale)... eeeek! I LOVE IT! 

This is an Instagram of a few angles of my UD collection... a few less shadows, palettes, and face makeup ago.  I had 2 eye shadow casualties this day, so I won't be having another photo shoot any time soon! 

Since I love playing with makeup, I figured I'd do a post on my go to makeup look for a night out.  WARNING: you are about to see a lot of my face... and awkward half smiles... and a possible lazy eye... haha


Whoopsiedoodles, I forgot lip gloss!
So there you have it! My go-to makeup routine.  
You may not notice a big difference with each different application, but its subtle buildable coverage.  I love the products I use because they don't cover all of my freckles.  I was always jealous of those that got to use a liquid foundation, but now I've found the right one for me!

Here's where I get everything:
I'm definitely not a makeup artist, but playing with makeup is so much fun... and I've had a few people ask me to do their makeup (which is so flattering)... but really scary because doing makeup on someone else is so different... and hilarious!  Go on YouTube, watch some tutorials (my favorite is Kandee Johnson), just have fun with makup...

I have this new palette to start playing with!

What's your favorite makeup?

Sunday, September 9

Fruit of the Month: July & August

The time has come to talk about my "Fruit of the Month" arrivals that I mentioned in my farmer's market post!  I told you about all the fun things I did for Greg's birthday, but he got me some great gifts as well.  The main gift being a monthly shipment of fruit from Harry & David for a year... the original "Fruit of the Month" club.  At first I was like "aw man, fruit for my birthday... the most important day of the year (haha) and I got something healthy?"... and then I thought, "yes! fruit for my birthday... and for so long... oh, the things I can make... oh, the things I can blog" because coincidentally I started this blog right around my birthday... and sometimes I think like Dr. Seuss!

My first fruit, Cherry-Oh! cherries, arrived on July 19th... right around the time I had a ton of things going on.  Although I had hoped to make some amazing cherry things, I did not make anything super exciting.

First we made a cherry "sangria"...

...with a cherry wine we got from Nashoba Valley Winery in Massachusetts,  black cherry flavored sparkling water, and chopped up Cherry-Oh! cherries... served in Mason jars of course! Delicious summer beverage... that would have been even better with some brandy and other fruits... next time...

Then I made a cherry salmon dish for dinner:

I used a recipe I found quickly online, but I did not have tarragon, so I substituted with anise seed because Google told me it was a good idea.  Anise seed tastes like black licorice... it kind of went well with the cherries (I'm being nice), but I will not make this again.

On August 10th I got my second fruit; mangoes!

did you know mangoes can be spelled with or without an "e"?
I was worried I wouldn't like mangoes because I tried a mango rum runner in college and didn't like the taste (such a good reason to be worried, right?)

Greg just had to cut open a mango right away to taste it (I think he bought this present for himself too).  I wasn't in love with the texture or taste, so the remaining 3 mangoes stayed in the box for a while.  Then, about a week later, I decided to do some mango research and saw a lot of recipes for mango salsa and mango cupcakes.  And so, my mango day started.  I cut, chopped, measured, mixed, melted, sauteed, pureed, baked, piped, blended, and taste tested that day.  And voila! I found a way to like mangoes!

I made mango salsa with fresh veggies from the farmer's market:

The mango salsa was SO GOOD... the saltiness of the chips with the sweetness of the mango and orange juice was delicious... until... I remembered that I forgot (hehe) to add the cilantro.  The cilantro altered the taste of the salsa completely and made it taste soapy, which is why I did not include it in my ingredients... we were so sad :(

Don't worry, the delicious mango cupcakes made up for it.  This is one of my favorite cupcakes that I have ever made.  The sweetness of the butter cream frosting paired so well with the subtle sweetness of the vanilla cupcakes.   I tweaked a recipe I found on Dessarts and made it my own. 

Even Greg loved the cupcakes... and he thinks hes a food and wine critic ;).  I used part of an apple corer to make the holes in the cupcakes, and I piped the filling into the cupcakes and then the frosting right on top... I had fun with 2 different piping tips too.  In the future I'll be writing a post on a super easy way to fill a piping bag that makes swirled frosting a lot easier!

Just don't leave your first batch of cupcakes in the oven for too long!

Now its time for me to start my nectarine research... yesterday I got my September shipment:

Any suggestions on what I should make?!

Tuesday, September 4

Farmer's Market Finds...

It's getting dark earlier, school has started, and there are Halloween decorations at the stores... fall is coming!  Fall is my favorite season, but there are some things I am going to miss about summer... beach days, no class, eating outside, and farmers' markets.  This was my first year actually going to farmer's markets, and I fell in love!  There's just something about shopping for fresh fruits and veggies outside.

After our cooking class back in July, Greg and I looked for somethings to do before we went home.  Our hotel was in Windsor and we were able to find the Rosedale Farm and Winery near by in Simsbury.  We went for a wine tasting, but when we got there we realized they had a great farmer's market as well.

The colors of the fruits and vegetables were so beautiful, I just had to take pictures.  At the Rosedale farmer's market we got corn, peppers, onions, mushrooms, plums, cucumbers, zucchini, a yellow watermelon, and the best balsamic vinegar that I have ever tasted... and of course wine! We used the fruits and veggies as part of our lunches and dinners.

We had heard that our home town had a farmer's market too, and a few weekends ago we went to our local farmer's market in Shelton.  This time we got fresh mozzarella, cider donuts, basil, banana peppers, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, nectarines, pears, and kale.  

This time I got creative and used the basil to make pesto to top a caprese salad made with the fresh mozzarella and tomatoes and kale chips with the kale (they are as yummy as everyone says)!

I made 3 different kinds of kale chips (as noted in the picture above).  The truffle oil was delicious, but I think the garlic salt would have been my favorite if I hadn't added the salt to the Ziploc bag I mixed everything in.  Instead, I should have sprinkled the salt on the kale when it was laid out on the parchment paper so to avoid GIANT clumps of salt.  I am sad to say the Bayou Blast, although amazing on practically everything... (not kidding), did not taste that great on the kale chips.

Hopefully I will make a few more farmer's market trips before they are done (good news, some last until November).. and don't worry friends, I have one more recipe that I used vegetables from the farmer's market and my July "fruit of the month" shipment to make.  What is the fruit of the month shipment, you ask? Well, you'll just have to wait until my next post to find out! ;)

Check out this website for Connecticut farmers' markets information.

What do you think about farmers' markets?

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Wednesday, August 29

We Cooked, We Ate, We Laughed...

Hey friends! I have been a bit busy lately... lots of shopping and organizing for student teaching... LOTS of shopping ;) , but I am back to reminisce about mine and Greg's fun date night this summer.  I mentioned that I surprised Greg with a cooking class for his birthday in my post about a DIY ticket shadow box... well we went, we cooked, we ate... and we laughed at the snooty serious people in the class (luckily we found another couple with the same sense of humor as us)! So, what did we cook?

Our Menu:
Appetizer: Grilled Pancetta-Wrapped Shrimp Skewers
Main Course: Rosemary-Stuffed Flank Steak with Shaved Parmesan
Side: Grilled Zucchini with Parsley- Almond Pesto
Dessert: Caramel Apple Grilled Pizza

The class was held at Sur La Table in Canton, CT.  There were about 16 participants and we all worked together in groups of 8 to create the meal... and of course we brought wine (wish they provided the drinks).  If I were to ever do this again I would want to go with friends because, as I said, some of the people were just too serious... I think cooking and date nights should be fun!  The food was really yummy... I will definitely be cooking flank steak, making pesto, and working with skewers again!  Here are the recipes so you can try them at home.

Grilled Pancetta Wrapped Shrimp Skewers Recipe
Rosemary Stuffed Flank Steak with Parmesan
Grilled Zucchini with Parsley Almond Pesto Recipe
Caramel Apple Grilled Pizza Recipe
All recipes are courtesy of Sur La Table.

FREEBIE TIME!! Want your own 4x6 recipe cards to fill in?  Download a free printable recipe card template here ... just make sure you let people know where you got them from... ENJOY! :) 

Have you ever been to a cooking class?

Thursday, August 2

Break Fast for Breakfast : Egg Muffins

The way I eat throughout the day usually depends on what my morning breakfast is.  I have that little voice in my head that will either say, "Whelp, you've already had that Bruegger's for breakfast, why not Chili's for lunch... I can eat the lunch I packed tomorrow" or "You had a good breakfast, let's keep it going... eat the healthy lunch you packed".  So why would I even consider DD or Bruegger's?  I don't always have time in the morning to make a good breakfast (if I know I can sleep a little longer, I am going to sleep a little longer... this is why morning workouts never happen), and there are only so many Chobanis I can eat a week.

Don't worry! Pinterest and Google have enhanced my life again!  I researched easy breakfasts and found a ton of variations on egg muffins!  These little guys can be made ahead of time in a muffin pan and packed like BAM! in the morning.  The thing that I really like about these is how customizable they are!  So far I have made 3 different variations... 2 with turkey sausage on the bottom (peppers & onion and mushroom, onion, & hot sauce) and one with turkey bacon (kalamata olive, feta, & tomato).  

These muffins have been a bit of a trial and error.  The first batch I sprayed the muffin pan with cooking spray and they came out well... there weren't any big pieces in the pan, but it left a layer of egg that was so hard to clean off.  The second batch I used muffin liners and they came out of the pan fine, without leaving anything behind, but the egg stuck to the liner a bit.  The next batch I make I will use muffin liners sprayed with cooking spray and hopefully they will be perfect.

Put the turkey sausage in the bottom of the muffins and pour the egg on top.

For the turkey bacon muffins, I cut each piece of bacon in half, criss-crossed it on the bottom of the muffin liners and poured the eggs on top of that (I didn't take pictures while I was preparing the turkey bacon muffins). I cooked both batches at 350 and just kept an eye on them.  When they are done they won't look gooey anymore, they'll look like cooked eggs (duh).  I kept them in a container in the fridge and heated them up in the microwave.

I have kept these for 4 days in the refrigerator and they tasted great.  I haven't tried freezing these, but I think it's good idea if you plan to make more than one tray at a time. 

These are some egg muffins I plan to make in the future:
  • black bean, corn, & salsa
  • spinach, tomato, onion, & feta
  • broccoli, cheddar, & onion
 What kind of egg muffins would you make?

Wednesday, July 25

Do it for...

Here I go again... I am trying really hard to be healthy!  Today I ate right and I went to my personal trainer... I am proud of myself.  I wish everyday could be that easy, but I won't say I am not going to keep trying.  Instead of eating out of boredom I decided to make a "do it for..." word collage with buzz words on why being healthy is so important to me.  Of course, cute clip art had to be included!

Do it for...

I am going to look to this when I doubt myself and need that extra motivation.  Feel free to use this to motivate you too!

So... what are you going to do it for?

Thursday, July 19

Admit One...

What do concerts, movie theaters, carnivals, fairs, plays, comedy shows, sports events, etc.etc.etc. have in common? They all require you to have a ticket.  A ticket that, after used for admission, can represent a great memory.  So what do you do with those keepsakes? Place them on a cork board, a ribbon board, scrapbook them, or stick them in a drawer?  I've done all of the above, but recently I discovered a great way to display those keepsake tickets for all to see.  I came across a ticket shadow box on Pinterest (duh).  My boyfriend, Greg, is all about movies and he has been saving the ticket stubs since before I met him (and we've been dating 10 years, so its been a long time), so I decided to make a ticket shadow box for him.

Drum roll please... anyone?

TADA! This is the final product. 

This ticket box was really easy to make.  I used:
  • A $20 12x12 shadow box from Michael's (I could have saved some money if I had planned ahead and shopped around)
  • Black card stock
  • Sparkly gold card stock
  • Red card stock
  • Tape
  • Hot glue
  • Scissors/ an Exacto knife
  • A ticket graphic I made on Microsoft Word (as seen in the photos)
  • And a saw (well... my uncle used something, I'm assuming, in the saw family to cut a small slit on the top of the box so that the tickets can be dropped in). 
I cut the black card stock the same size as the backing of the shadow box and used the sparkly gold paper and the tickets I printed out on red paper to decorate it.  I made sure everything I added was up towards the top, so that when tickets are added to the box it will still be visible.  So fun putting the tickets in the box!!

Greg's birthday gift definitely had an unintentional ticket theme this year.  In addition to the ticket shadow box I made tickets to represent presents that were not wrappable. I bought advance tickets to "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" for the IMAX theater in Providence for July 21st and a cooking class that we will be doing on July 28th.  Here are the tickets I made:

Now it's time to start thinking lottery tickets... cue the daily "I wish I were a gazillionaire" day dream...
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Monday, July 16

Summer Eats

This month has been packed with fun activities and I've been seeing a lot of my best friend Nikki, which has been awesome!  So far I have:
  • Eaten a 5.3 pound lobster
  • Gone to a 4th of July party
  • Gone on a mini shopping spree
  • Gone to a surprise birthday party 
  • Gone to the beach
  • Tried veggie cheese and pepperoni
  • Made cupcakes for a baby shower
  • Gone to a belated birthday dinner
  • Had a BBQ/camp fire party
  • Made burger cupcakes
  • Made antipasto skewers
  • Played "Dream Phone"
  • Gone to a winery
  • Eaten the best garlic knots EVER
... just to name a few things ;) ... here's a visual of some of my July excitement:

Lots of summer fun and delicious-ness... and although the 5.3lb lobster was my favorite, I had a lot of fun making antipasto skewers and hamburger cupcakes to share with my friends...

Feel free to print these recipe cards so that you can share some delicious food with your friends too!

Now on to the next half of July...

What are your favorite summer eats or activities?
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Monday, July 9

Veggie What?

Veggie cheese and pepperoni? I know, sounds strange... but oddly enough, not that bad... actually, pretty yummy!  For lunch today I made a simple salad and a flatbread pizza.  I used Flatout Foldit Flatbread in rosemary and olive oil for the pizza crust, Veggie Shreds "mozzarella cheese", Yves Meatless Pepperoni, sauce, onions, and cherry tomatoes.  Here's the step-by-step:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. While oven heats,  dice a small amount of red onion, cut 2 cherry tomatoes in thirds and cut 3 slices of meatless pepperoni (I made 2 slices vertically and then 2 slices horizontally... or did I do horizontally first... haha).   
  3. Cut the flat bread in half and lightly spray with cooking spray on both sides.
  4. Put the flatbread in the oven and allow the flatbread to crisp/warm just a little.
  5. Remove flat bread halves and top with 1/2- 1 tablespoon of sauce (per flatbread), 1/4 cup veggie cheese divided, and the "pepperoni", onions, and tomatoes.
  6. Return the pizzas to the oven and cook until cheese is somewhat melted (this cheese does not fully melt like real cheese as you can see in my pictures) and the flatbread is crisped to your liking.  The "pepperoni" does crisp a bit, just like real pepperoni, which was good. 
  7. Enjoy your flatbread pizzas.  I had mine with a small salad (part of a romaine heart, some red pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and red wine vinegar). 
PointsPlus® value 5

You can really put anything on top of these pizzas for a yummy lunch, I bet olives would be delish...   I have also made a pizza with Flatout's Original Flatbread, which is a larger oval-ish shape, but they are a bit thinner and they do not crisp up as well as the Flatout Foldits. 

What would you put on your pizza?