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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Helping Without Hurting

When I was in high school, I went on a couple of those short-term missions trips. The kind when you go somewhere (preferably far away) with the intention of changing someone's life through painting walls, running VBS, or street evangelizing. 



Now I understand that trips like these, while they may do good for the teenagers on the trips or have their place in a believer's life, I don't really think they do that much for the communities we are trying to serve. This is unfortunate, because missions trips like that take such prevalence in the way that many people see "missions." 



Enter someone like Jen Hatmaker. 



Please, even if you don't read any more of my ramblings, go read her post.



Jen is supporting and promoting real, true service to people in need. She is working with people who live in and know the communities they serve, people who are empowering the impoverished, sick, and disenfranchised. Organizations like Help One Now are truly lifting families and children out of poverty and giving them a means of supporting themselves, and that is invaluable. 



"Hundreds of children are now in school instead of working, hundreds of families are kept intact instead of devastated by disruption, and ten years from now, hundreds of young adults will contribute to the local economy and take their rightful place as the next generation of local leaders."



Isn't that so much better than awkwardly helping with a VBS in a language you don't speak? 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Granolapalooza

A few weeks ago, Sister and Psuedo-Sister (AKA Meg) were hanging out with me and we decided to try our hand at some new granola.





I make granola all the time, it's way cheaper than buying and I like being able to control the ingredients. I posted about it a while ago, and gave you my basic formula. Usually I go the route of coconut and cranberry, since it's Dan's favorite.




Plus, with coconut oil and honey, it's a pretty healthy staple.



But this time, us gals wanted a something little more exciting.



We mixed up some old-fashioned oats along with multigrain oats (for a little added texture), added some melted butter, and confectioners sugar. We toasted this with a handful of almonds for 12 minutes (mix once at 6 minutes).





Once it came out of the oven and warm and delicious-smelling, we added shredded coconut, dried blueberries, and...another dusting of confectioners sugar.



We dubbed it blueberries and cream, and boy was it tasty. Definitely a sweet treat and not an everyday type of granola, but worth every bite!





Hmm, maybe I'll have to make another batch of this soon...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Classroom Reveal!

This school year has hit me like a ton of bricks, but I'm going to do my utmost to stay up to date on here! There might be fewer posts, but I will do my best.



(I think that's my mantra for the year...do my best, don't sweat the rest.) 



Anyway, I did snap some pictures of my finished classroom before the kiddos arrived! I apologize for the blurriness, I actually brought my real camera to school but I was in a hurry and apparently I did a pitiful job. Ha. 


Bulletin board #1--learning materials

Bulletin board #2--morning meeting materials

The whole circle time area, complete with the Word Wall

We use that general area for our morning meeting, read alouds, and whole group learning. 


Focus wall, so parents can easily see exactly what we are working on!
This is also useful when I want the kids to be able to restate their objectives. =)

Learning centers, math and literacy. 

Our class library, which I spent hours organizing, labeling, and making generally pretty.
'Cause books are important.

The kiddos have since decorated those white magazine holders above the library--those are their book boxes, where they store "in progress" books. We also ditched (well, gave away) that brown table in the lower right hand corner, which made the space much more open and comfy. 


Whole room shot. I love those huge windows!

Teacher's desk area.


It took many hours to get to this point, but I'm so happy with the overall result! 



It's already interesting to note exactly how we use the room so far, and think about what might shift as the year progresses. This is my first permanent teaching position, and I keep having to remind myself that if it doesn't work, I can try something different next year! 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

(Yet Another) Zucchini Roundup


I know, this time of year everyone and their brother talks about all the things you can possibly make with zucchini and tomato. I'm just gonna go ahead and jump on this bandwagon, because I've been lucky enough to eat half my body weight in zucchini and summer squash this year. 



In my personal opinion, zucchini and summer squash are delightful just as they are, and can be consumed with pleasure in just about any form. My husband disagrees. 



In the interest of fairness (also because for the first time in five years it was a mild enough summer for me to spend more than 38 seconds in my kitchen), I decided to bake some of those delightful vegetables into delightful treats. 



The first thing I made was a coconut zucchini bread.


Pinterest

It was tasty, especially if you like coconut. Dan wasn't crazy about the texture (the coconut flakes were on the chewy side) but Sister and I thought it was delicious. Unfortunately, the fiendish dog struck, and we only got to eat about half the loaf. 




Next up was this absolutely incredible double chocolate zucchini bread. They call it bread mostly because you bake it in a loaf pan--but it's basically cake. And decadently delicious. 


Pinterest


Mine didn't bake quite long enough, so it didn't have that perfect crumb, but it was still amazing. Very rich, but hey, you're sneaking a veg into your dessert! 



Then I decided to go the route of plain old zucchini bread. I tested out two recipes. First, from The Kitchn. 

I'm generally a big fan of the Kitchn, I think they have great tutorials and consistently delicious recipes. They are actually a go-to for me when we are having company and I want something on the more impressive side. 



Thus, it was quite a surprise that this recipe wasn't fantastic. It made a perfectly fine zucchini bread, but not the moist, crumbly treat that I associate with the title. Instead it was a little dry, and (dare I say it?) cardboardy. Not my favorite. 



Finally, I found this recipe from Good Housekeeping (go figure). This was exactly what I was looking for in a zucchini bread recipe--moist, just a little sweet, perfect texture. This is now my go-to recipe. 


Pinterest

Those has been my squash-related escapades this summer...do you bake in the summer? Have a go-to summer recipe? 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Work in Progress

One of the most exciting things about being a new teacher is essentially starting with a blank slate in your classroom. It's thrilling to walk in and envision everything you want to happen in that room--the bright decorations on the walls, the brilliantly unique work from the kids proudly displayed, and of course, students busily at work and engaged in the exciting lessons you've planned. 



But sometimes, before you get to that point, there is some organizing to do. 



I was lucky enough to inherit a very well-stocked classroom...meaning, the previous teacher left behind a lot of her resources and materials for me. This was a relief, since kindergarten is a very play-centric grade, and I was thankful to not need to buy toys and games for a whole classroom at once. 



However, as any teacher can tell you, each individual has their own way of organizing said materials. A new teacher coming into the old teacher's way of organizing can mean a lot of change and thus, a lot of work.



Thus, over the last week or so (plus a few scattered hours at the end of July), my classroom has gone from looking like this: 




This is actually after several hours of work in the "library." Those book bins are halfway sorted.

This is approximately where I started hyperventilating.

About halfway through the closet project. 

To looking like this. 


My first poster in my room! 

Still not done, but definite progress.



There's even room to grow! 


It's been a lot of hard work already, and I'm (clearly) nowhere near ready for students to come in, but progress is progress! I think I'm about ready to do the fun stuff! 



Bulletin boards, cubbies, name tags, posters....



...wait, aren't those things fun for you too? You mean you don't lie awake at night planning student work displays? 



So tell me, what DO you do with your end-of-summer? 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I Dream of Cookies

Cookies are probably my favorite dessert.



Well, cookies and ice cream.



I like to keep things classy, you know?



While I will eat and enjoy just about any cookie, I do love an excellent cookie. And lately I feel like I've hit my stride when it comes to getting the butter and sugars creamed just right, and the cooking temperature perfect, to make those cookies that are lightly crisped around the edges, chewy in the middle, and full of rich, buttery flavors and textures.



Then I found this article. A million and one variations on the chocolate chip cookie, complete with all the science and voodoo behind it. I need a cookie, like now.



And now, even though I'm supposed to go work on my classroom, all I want to do is hit the grocery store and bake cookies all day.



Maybe I can find a happy medium.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BOOKS


For someone who only has one year of teaching experience, and has never purchased supplies for an entire classroom, I have WAY too many books. 




And these don't include the books that are already in my new classroom. 



Some of these have (thankfully) vacated my living room, but now I have to figure out how to organize my classroom library. 



Ideally I'd like it to look like this: 


Source


But I'm thinking realistically we'll have to settle somewhere in between those two photos.