Thursday, December 13, 2018

December Daily 2018: Week 1 (ish)

Now that Week 2 is almost come and gone, here is week 1 from my December Daily album.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Teaching Tip: 100th Day Museum

I started sharing about our 100th day last week, but this week, I'm adding another addition.  I'm going to set up a 'museum' in our school with inventions from 1919, food, politics, and news stories.  Another big thing that happened in 1919 was the fact that this is the year Congress endorsed the 19th Amendment.  I made a little flyer with a QR code that leads to a short/informative video about how this came about.  Here is the link to the free printable. 
I also used this website:
to print off info about 10 women.  I'm going to set up a ballot box with their names on the ballots, and I'm going to make a sash like the ones they would have worn during protest. 

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Italian Christmas Cookies

 Last week my school hosted a cookie exchange.  I've been putting this together for at least ten years now.  I'll share more about it in a few days, but in the meantime, this is the cookie recipe I brought this year.  I'll put a link below the full printable.  I always try out something new (which is our whole goal).  These were a new route for me, they were more of a sandy cookie, not as sweet as some, with a little hint of almond and lemon.  I liked the fact that you can sprinkle them any color you want.  I found instead of dipping my cookies, I spooned icing on top.  I also just used real butter instead of butter flavored crisco because it's what I had on hand. 

Here is a link to a free printable. 
We always share the recipe, which is great b/c you can keep the ones that meet your tasting standards likes and dislikes, and you can toss the others. 

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Unicorn Pocket Letter

 Pocket letters were really big a few years ago.  People got pretty elaborate with their pocket scenes.  The idea is you use those old baseball card sleeves and fill them with scrapbook supplies.  Some people even fill the front and back.  Then you fold them up and can slip them in a letter size envelope.  I did NOT go elaborate because my goal was to get this out in a speedy fashion.  My cousin's little gal is at a really fun age, and she is a fan of the unicorn.  I too love a good unicorn decoration.  She came to my house over the break and we did some crafting (another one of her loves) and she enjoyed playing with all my supplies, and examining all my unicorns.
 So....I went through my old scraps, pulled out washi, and stickers etc, and I filled a little envelope full of these gals for her to get creative.  This concludes with her next love-letters, so....mine is closed up, stickered up, and I'm adding some tape and a couple of stamps and then shipping this through the mail.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Teaching Tip: Context Clues

Things have been a little crazy at work, so in an effort not to let go of this little day of the week, I found an old lesson I did.  If you click on this free link it will take you to the full activity.  Once kids learn about four different types of clues, there are a bunch of example sentences (I found a lot of them and just reformatted them) and they sort them into the four sections.  

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Easy French Onion Soup

 This weekend I took a really fun French Cooking Class at Sur La Table.  It was my third time to take a class (all at different places), but I think this was my favorite.  In this case, we made a meal, some of the others have been tips (which end up as a meal too), but I like a good theme.  One of my favorite meals of all time was French Onion Soup and roasted chicken at this little café in Montmatre.  This menu was reminiscent of the time.
I also had already planned French onion soup for this week's lunches (whoops).  I was in a soup mood a few weeks ago when I was planning ahead.
Can I be honest, I actually liked the soup I made tonight better, but I learned a lot of great tips from the class that helped with making the recipe.
I'm storing it here b/c I want to be able to create it again someday.
But first, here is how you cut the onion...I didn't know.  You do a 'wedge like cut' that ist just about 1/4 of an inch or less.
French Onion Soup
Ingredients:  1/4 c. butter, 2 large yellow onions (chopped thin), 1 t. kosher salt, 1 t. thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1/4 c. dry sherry, 1 t. apple cider vinegar, 1/2 t. sugar, 3 c. beef broth, 2 c. chicken broth, 1 c. water.  1/2 inch sliced baguette (drizzled with oil and toast), 2 c. grated Gruyere cheese.
1.  Melt butter over medium heat.  Add onions and salt.  Stir occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden (just starting to brown).  This process takes about 45 minutes.
2.  Mix in thyme, bay leaf, broths, and water.  Stir to combine and allow the soup to simmer gently (gentle boil) for about 1 hour.
3.  Remove bay leave and then divide evenly into crocks (mine filled about 6 crocks).  Top with toasted bread (heavy on the bread-I put in 4 pieces), and top with shredded cheese (I like it cheesy-so I put 1/3 c. on each).
4.  Place crocks in oven on high broil until the cheese and golden and bubbling (1-2 minutes).

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Pumpkin Brownies

 I was just going through pictures on my phone and I found these brownies I made for a few of the mentees at work.  I wanted to try these out, mainly b/c I wanted to use the little paper envelopes I found at Joann this past fall and needed something that would fit inside the cuteness.  It turns out, the recipe was good too.  Before I let go over November and truly embrace December, how about one more 'fall' recipe b/c I think pumpkin shouldn't be limited by seasons.  The original recipe is a simple one from Betty Crocker.
FILLING:  3 oz cream cheese (softened), 1/2 c. canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix), 1 egg, 3 T sugar, 1 t cinnamon, 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
BROWNIES:  I used the fudgy brownie mix, but the original recipe calls for the supreme mix.  Water, Veg. Oil, and eggs the boxed mix calls for.  
1.  Heat oven to 350.  Spray 9x9 inch pan with cooking spray.  
2.  Beat together the filling ingredients.  Set aside.  
3.  Make browning batter according to box directions.  
4.  Spread 2 14 c. brownie batter in pan.  Spoon filling by T evenly over batter.  Spoon remaining browning batter over filling.  Use a knife to swirl together the two with a few swirls to create a marble design.  
5.  Bake for 38-42 minutes (or until toothpick inserted 2 inches in the middle comes out clean).  Cool 30 minutes.  Place in fridge for 2 hours to cool completely.  Cut into squares.  Store in fridge.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Teaching Tuesday: 100th Day of School

Here's a confession, that nobody that knows me will be surprised to hear.....I'm working on 100th Day activities for February.  That's right, it's November....and I've been thinking about what I want to do since last spring.  There are pockets of grades that do a really cute job celebrating 100th day at my school, but I was trying to think of something that would be fun to provide for the whole school to do (amidst their usual celebrations), one idea I came up with was creating a museum of things from 100 years ago.  I've put out a call for some different inventions and items, and I have some food I'm planning on purchasing, but one fun thing about 1919 was the popularity of silent film, specifically, Charlie Chaplin.  I'm planning on running a youtube video and providing this little flyer about ol' CC.  I'm making a bunch of these and trying to create some interactive stations at my museum.  Here is a free printable of this particular station. 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Pioneer Woman Pecan Pie

     My Thanksgiving break is winding down, and I did absolutely nothing productive on my to do list.  My cousin and his kids were in town, which I love b/c holidays are more fun with kiddos.  The leaves are absolutely perfect right now, and on Thanksgiving I looked out and it literally looked like it was raining leaves all afternoon.  In fact, catch that action shot in this pie picture.
     I also started a new thing, I decided I was going to bake my way through an entire cookbook.  I picked the Holiday Cookbook by the Pioneer Woman.  I also am NOT setting a crazy time line.  If it takes me ten years, that's fine, but anytime I have an event, or holiday, I'm going to look there first.  I made a copy of the index and I'm crossing off the dishes as I try them.  The ONLY exception is I just don't eat seafood, so I'm not going to make myself try those (few) dishes, but I might try to adapt them to chicken.  I'll cross that cookbook bridge when I come to it.
    The first dish, this pie, and oh my, oh my, it was a good pick.  I have tried a LOT of pecan pies because A)  Pecan Pies are delicious and B)  Pecans are kind of a big deal in Texas.  I've tried a lot from various food network stars, but I can say I have truly found 'the' pecan pie I'll be making from here on out forever and ever amen.  Here is the recipe I used.  And now....I'm off to cram a weeks worth of a to do list into the next hour....

Thursday, November 22, 2018

 I hate to throw away Christmas cards (unless they are from my insurance agent), so I started making little books a few years ago....I'm just about a year behind this year.  It's such a simple idea, and it doesn't take up much space.  I have a friend that keeps her cards all year and flips to a new one each day and says a prayer for that family.  I love this idea so much.
This year I used some supplies from last year from a line called Snow and Cocoa by Crate Paper.  I just took a piece of cardboard (the back of a paper pad works well) and I cut it to the largest card's size of the cards.  I punch in two holes in each card, add rings, and decorate the cover.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Teaching Tuesday: Elf on the Shelf Week

 As a specialist, I do a lot of 'big theme days' for the whole school, but I have to be sensitive (or try) to the 'rest' of the schedule.  In August, I had all these grand plans for an Elf on the Shelf week complete with a Santa's Workshop.  Enter, district scheduling and it turns out there are about 543,122 test going on this week.  I don't know why.  So, I adapted.  My teammate and I used some of our budget last year to purchase this book for the different grades.  I made a powerpoint with an award winning poem (insert sarcasm) about there being an elf at our school that spends December catching kids being kind.  I then bought some green bowls at Walmart that I added vinyl to and I'm going to place all over the building.
The PTA graciously donated a ton of little candy canes to the project, and I made a 'caught being kind' note and printed off enough for every student.  I'm giving each teacher a baggie with the notes and candy canes so that the elf can 'catch their kids' being kind throughout the week and leave notes on their desk to find in the morning.  The PTA is going to come up and pull pranks throughout the school each day, and on Friday all the teachers are going to dress up like elves.
I put some fun things on our school drive like 'finding your elf name' that I found online for free by just googling.
In a week filled with testing, this should be fun without causing too much interruption.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Cheater Chicken Noodle Soup

This is my cheater version of chicken noodles soup, and I'm not sorry about cheating b/c it's good.  I simply bought a rotisserie chicken from the store, removed the skin and shredded the meat.
I started off by taking about a half of cup of chopped celery, chopped carrots, and a medium onion and sautéing them in about a T. of oil.  When they start to soften I added 16 oz of chicken stock and about two cups of water, the chicken, 1 t. of kosher salt, and 1 T of parsley.  I also added about two cups of pasta and boiled it all together for about 15 minutes (until the noodles were soft).  If the water boils out, add more water.  I don't like a lot of water with my soup, but feel to add more broth if you like a soupy soup.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Pecan Pie Part 2,345

This is the second year in a row the leadership team has brought pie around to the teachers.  We each made two pies and brought them up and rolled them around to the teachers.  
 I tried out a new recipe from all recipes for a pecan pie that didn't require corn syrup.  It used brown sugar, which made the tops candy crunchy (I don't have a better word).  It was less soupy than the usual pie, and I really liked it.
We had quite a collect this year.  More recipes to come, but in the meantime, here is the pecan I used. 
Pecan Pie Recipe
Ingredients:  1 c. brown sugar, 1/4 c. white sugar, 1/2 c (melted butter), 2 eggs, 1 T flour, 1 T. milk, 1 t. vanilla, 1 c. chopped pecans
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
2.  In a bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir and melted butter.  Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour; mix well.  Add milk, vanilla, and nuts.  
3.  Pour into unbaked 9 inch pie shell.  Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce heat 350 degree and bake 30-40 minutes, or until done.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Teaching Tuesday: The Mayflower Simulation

We are introducing our Thanksgiving unit with these little activities.  The picture above is NOT mine, I googled Mayflower Simulation.  I also refer to a challenge activity that I found a free printable off.  Here is the video link.
The district has added in social studies test this year, so I included a few activities to have them reading compasses and using map scales like the one below.  
 I also found this free link to Scholastics where kids can 'tour' the mayflower and I provided QR codes.
Once the students try this out and we find out what works or what doesn't.....I'll spruce it up and make a printable until maybe by next year.  If it's a complete bust.....I won't.

Monday, November 12, 2018

3D Reel-40th Birthday Gift Idea

It's that 'special' year so many of my friends are hitting the decade mark....and I've been stressing.  I've been stressing since they turned 30, I'm sure.  I always try so hard to find the perfect gift, so I'm going to share a few of the ones I've come up with b/c if they don't appreciate them, maybe *you* will.  This gift is one I gave to my pal Regan.  She and I have been friends for-ev-er.  More than 30 of these 40 years, in fact, and so I took a few pictures from our years together and made one of these 3D Reels (not sponsored, but....I love these things).  I packed up her package with pink flamingos (b/c she loves them) and glittery 40's I cut out with my Cricut…..and shipped it out in hopes she'd think this was a pretty spectacular surprise.  These would make super cute Bridesmaid's gifts, or grandparent gifts.  I've given these to family after family vacations as well because....well, I'm obsessed.  Here is a video sharing a few of the other slides I have made for personal use.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Sausage Stuffed Sweet Peppers

I love jalapenos, but not everyone isn't a fan of the heat.  I even take the seeds out, but.....sometimes those boogers are sneaky. 
I recent saw the recipe for these little sweet peppers online and decided to try it out for a game night.  They really were tasty and easy to put together.  It's being added to my rotations for sure!  I bought a bag of sweet peppers (the red and yellow), a lb of sausage, 8 oz block of cream cheese (and I also tossed in about 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of cheese-I used cheddar, but a lot of recipes called for parmesan).  I let the cream cheese come to room temp.  I cooked up the mild breakfast sausage, drained it, then mixed it all together.  (Just the sausage and cream cheese would have been enough, I was just being adventurous). 
I cut the peppers in half and removed the seeds, stuffed about a tablespoon in each, and baked them at 425 for 20 minutes (15 if you want the peppers a little crisp-I like to kill my vegetables). 

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Teaching Tuesday: Reading Game with Native American Story

I made this game using a free article (3rd Grade Level) from called I am Native American.  Once the students read it I made some questions that go along with Texas Expository TEKS for 3rd grade.  I used released STAAR question stems.  BUT, the fun part is I created these little arrow head QRS.  You can print them and pass them out to students as they A)  Work well together B)  Find correct proof in the story C) Get the correct answer.  I'm going to have them work in groups for this, so the group earns arrow heads.  Then after each question, pause and let each team scan their arrowhead.  They then get those points for their team, which is a good deal for teams that aren't able to earn as many arrow heads because they have a shot at still winning if they collect enough buffalo!
There are six different pictures that pop up with assigned points (a buffalo gets 500, deer 400 etc, and there is one that does not receive any points).  Here is a printable link to the questions and arrowheads.  I'm planning on giving out beef jerky as an award. 
Printable Link

Monday, November 05, 2018

Tea Gift

This is the year of 40 for so many of my friends.  I was trying to figure out the perfect gift for each.  Next up in the line up is my friend Nicole.  We've had some special memories at tea rooms, so I knew I wanted to do a tea themed gift.  The plan is to celebrate at a tea room shortly, so this should tide her over until then.
I found a tea cup and added her name in vinyl.  I also bought some honey stirrers, a tea dipper thing (whatever those are called), and then I got some test tubes at Michaels, and some different loose teas at Central Market.  I filled the tubes and labeled them with my label maker.

I found a cut box I filled full of tea goodies and shipped them out.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Elf Garland

 I have this white tree, and I decorated in with a ton of vintage Santa ornaments the first year I had it.  Last year, I adorned it with angels, and this year I'm all about the elf....and then I'll start over again next year.  I was trying to decide what garland I wanted to add to the elf tree this year.  Most of my ornaments are green and red.
 I found these little wrapped gifts at Hobby Lobby for 2.99 and 40% off.  I bought 3 packages and used just the red, green, and silver.  I also used some twine.  Originally I thought I'd need to make the holes with this scrapbook poker, but it turns out the embroidery needle I used did the job easily b/c it's a really flimsy shiny paper, and a Styrofoam square.
I did do it towards the top so they wouldn't be spinning around, and I tied a knot once I had it in place to both sides to keep them from sliding around.  I'll be back later with my elves!